Hygiene inspectors find rats jumping out of bins at takeaway in Oldham

Rats jumping out of bins, a huge cockroach infestation, thick grease on the counters and mouse droppings in the kitchen: The foul conditions of a takeaway shop that has seen its owner banned from owning another food business for life

  • Nzar Hassan claimed to customers his takeaway had a five-star hygiene rating 
  • Health inspector forced to use repellent spray on pests after surprise visit
  • Mouse droppings, food debris and thick grease found at premises in Oldham

A takeaway boss who ran a fried chicken shop so filthy it was overrun with rats, mice and cockroaches has been banned from owning a food business for life.

Nzar Hassan, 47, was taken to court after hygiene inspectors found cockroaches scurrying across kitchen surfaces, mouse droppings near a fridge and three rats jumping out of a bin during a series of inspections.

Some cockroaches were even found dead or dying at the premises.

Cockroaches are known to carry salmonella and E coli and can cause dysentery and gastroenteritis while mice and rats can carry serious food-borne infections and cause food poisoning. 

Hassan, a married father-of-four, had claimed his Montana Fried Chicken shop in Oldham, Greater Manchester, which makes fried chicken, burgers and pizzas, had a five-star hygiene rating.

Owner Nzar Hassan, 47, pictured above, has been banned for life from owning a food business

Hassan claimed his takeaway in Oldham had a five-star hygiene rating but was filthy

Officers uncovered ‘appalling’ conditions at the premises in Oldham, Greater Manchester

But environment health officials were forced to shut it down after shocked officers uncovered ‘appalling’ conditions behind the counter with one official using spray herself in a bid to kill off some of the cockroaches.

It emerged Hassan had previously been convicted of hygiene offences in 2019 after cockroaches, mouse droppings, food debris and thick grease were found at the premises.

At the time he told his local newspaper: ‘The shop is very, very different now. I have a new team and a new manager. Our customers know that our takeaway is clean.’

At Tameside magistrates court, Hassan, from Crumpsall, Manchester, pleaded guilty to 14 food safety and hygiene offences and a further offence of misleading customers by displaying false information.

He was fined £2,769 and given a prohibition order, banning him from ever operating a food business.

Officials found rats, mice and cockroaches at the Montana Fried Chicken & Pizza takeaway

The court was told that dirty cardboard was likely to attract rats and mice to the premises

He was also ordered to pay Oldham Council’s costs of £1,175 and a victim surcharge of £196.

His company, Montana Fried Chicken Ltd, was fined £25,000 but the court heard the firm has since gone into liquidation and it is unlikely the fine will ever be paid.

The takeaway is now under the control of new owners.

The court heard three inspections of the takeaway on Yorkshire Street took place between December 2021 and February 2022.

Miss Sumayya Rawat, prosecuting lawyer for Oldham Council, said: ‘Samantha Cox, a hygiene inspector, visited the premises on December 29, 2021

‘She went into the premises and introduced herself to staff behind the counter. She showed her ID badge and she proceeded to put on her white coat. 

‘She initially went to wash her hands in the wash basin but noted water from the hot tap was only trickling out which is not adequate for hand washing, especially as staff dealt with a lot of raw chicken.

An inspector noticed the fridge handle was damaged, so that it was not easy to be cleaned

‘She also noted the taps were dirty and there was no hand dryer so she then began to look around and started at the rear of the shop.

‘There was a ledge with mouse droppings in an area near the fridge.

‘There were waste oil bins near this area, near the back door, which were dirty and which were standing on dirty cardboard, providing a food source for rodents.

‘She also saw the bins outside the back door, which were overflowing with waste.

‘She saw the fridge handle was damaged, so that it was not easy to clean. Inside the fridge was covered with cardboard, which is not capable of being cleaned. There were raw burgers open and next to lettuce in an uncovered container.’

The inspector said there were bins outside the back door, which were overflowing with waste

Dirty waste oil bins were found on cardboard near the near the back door of the takeaway

Miss Rawat said there were mouse droppings on shelving, in the main food preparation area and next to the chicken warmer.

The floors were also dirty, there was food debris, and table legs were covered in grease.

‘She went down to the cellar,’ Miss Rawat added. ‘It was untidy with a build-up of unused waste material, she saw rat droppings and there were mouse droppings as well.

‘The ceiling was damaged. She went back to speak to who was in charge. She saw that none of the food handlers were wearing protective clothing. She told them that they needed to carry out a deep clean, and call out pest control immediately.

‘On January 26, 2022, the same inspection officer carried out an unannounced visit to the premises. Again, she introduced herself and went behind the counter and put on her coat.

‘The floor was still dirty in places and filters were missing in the extraction equipment.

The court heard the takeaway displayed a five-star rating but could easily have spread disease

‘Down in the cellar, some of the waste material had been removed, but there were still rat droppings on the floor. She went back upstairs when she saw a live German cockroach running on a surface.

‘She got some insect spray and the cockroach ran from behind the stainless steel into gaps in the ceiling. Cockroaches carry disease.

‘They do not like the light so there must have been a very bad infestation if she saw one in the light. The inspector sprayed into the area where they were hiding to flush them out.

‘The inspector considered this an imminent risk to public health and asked to speak to the person in charge and advised that they needed to close immediately due to the cockroach infestation.

‘Again, staff were not wearing protective clothing and there were rat droppings in the cellar.

‘She revisited on January 31 to find pest control had visited, cleaning had been carried out, and there were no signs of cockroaches.

‘The imminent risk to public health had been removed so it was allowed to reopen but staff were advised that the five-star rating in the window should be removed immediately.

‘The defendant had asked for a re-rating so there was a further visit on February 4.

A health inspector saw three rats jumping out of a bin at the back door of the premises

‘The inspector saw that the staff were congregated around the area of the equipment and sink.

‘She went to put on her white coat and saw a live cockroach in the same area. She looked around the area and found insect traps in the bin with dying cockroaches in it.

‘She looked out the back door and saw three rats jumping out of the bin, only a foot away from the back door.

‘She advised the premises would have to close for further cockroach treatment.

‘Conditions were poor. The staff had been advised at previous visits that they should carry out checks before opening and to make sure there were no insects and that all the surfaces were sanitised.

The court was told that health and safety officers found appalling conditions at the shop

Magistrates said they were ‘appalled’ at what they heard in court about the conditions

The court was told the owner of the shop accepted he would never run another food business

‘It was obvious that staff were not carrying out checks. And again the staff were not wearing protective clothing. A closure notice and a hand-written report were left at the premises.

‘The five-star rating was still in the window despite being advised to take it down.

‘Documents show the company stopped trading on March 1, 2022. I understand that the premises is now being run by someone else and the defendant’s company is in the hands of liquidators. I am not sure how much the premises sold for and the equipment in it, it may have been substantial.

Nzar Hassan, pictured above, is now working as a cash and carry driver, the court was told

‘These are serious matters. This is not the first time a prosecution has been brought against this defendant and the risk of bacterial cause of harm would have been significant had the place not been closed.

‘He does not seem to manage the business very well which therefore compounds the matter as the same offences are being committed time and time again.’

In mitigation for Hassan, defence barrister Amar Alyas said: ‘Mr Hassan is very remorseful and is very sorry to the court for what has happened to his business at the time.

Large quantities of grease, filth and dirt were found at the Montana Fried Chicken & Pizza shop

‘He was not actually running the business at the time as he was suffering from a stomach operation which involved him being at home. He was basically bed bound for at least three to six months.

‘He was also suffering from Covid and was in hospital as well. He says the business was being run by a manager who was employed to take care of the business and manage the issues that had arisen.

‘On March 1, 2022, he gave the business away for nothing because he was in rent arrears.

‘Also the business was collapsing, therefore he had to give the business away at a loss.

‘He is now working at a cash and carry as a driver earning just over £1,000 per month and is simply just surviving in terms of living expenses. It is very unfortunate, he is sorry and he holds his hands up. He has no intention of running a food business, on principle.’

Sentencing Hassan, Stephen Flaherty told him: ‘ People expect their food to be prepared hygienically. It would not be in the interests of the people of Oldham or anywhere else for that matter for you to run a food business again. We were absolutely appalled by what we heard today and we hope that you yourself are also appalled.’

After the case, Councillor Chris Goodwin, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods from Oldham council, said: ‘We expect all food businesses to uphold the highest hygiene standards and most do but unfortunately, in the case of Mr Hassan and his company, they committed several offences relating to food safety, including displaying the wrong hygiene rating which is totally unacceptable.

‘Despite working with Mr Hassan to improve standards of food safety, Mr Hassan continually committed similar offences over time and we welcome the court’s decision and hope this serves as a warning to others.’

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