The three star Great Western Hotel in Swindon has been fined £20,000 after health inspectors checked the kitchens last year, and discovered a shocking level of filth. They described the food safety breaches as 'appalling'.
The state of the fridge was horrendous, with uncooked and uncovered meat stored with cooked food. Uncooked meat had also been left lying around on work surfaces at the kind of temperatures that helps meat grow bacteria most effectively.
The state of the hob had to be seen to be believed, as it was encrusted with layers of grease and mould and had been left to go rusty. The food preparation surfaces were also smeared with grease, and there was no soap for the chefs to wash their hands with.
The hotel was found to be serving out-of-date sandwiches, and in total racked up 12 safety breaches.
The reason this ended up in court, and that the fine was so steep, was that his wasn't the first time that inspectors had been unhappy with what they found at the hotel. This visit was after a number where the hotel had been told what needed to be put right, but changes were not made.
Swindon Borough Council said it was "one of the worst cases" they'd seen, adding that the pictures "speak for themselves". The hotel director said that he regretted the situation, but that all breaches had been rectified, staff had been retrained, and that since the photos were taken, £30,000 had been invested in the kitchens.
Not the worst
The size of the fine reflects the seriousness of the breaches. However, is not the most a kitchen has ever been fined by the courts for some truly appalling conditions.
One of the biggest fines of recent years was demanded in January 2012 from the owners of a Chinese restaurant in Greenwich - who were made to pay £54,000 and were banned from ever running a restaurant again. The size of the fine reflected the fact that the owners had been fined two years earlier for ignoring a mouse infestation, and had failed to improve conditions.
Another major fine was in May 2013, when a Caribbean takeaway near Croydon was ordered to pay £30,000. Inspectors had been dealing with problems there for eight years, and had recently found an infestation of cockroaches and mice. Despite the fact they told the restaurant to close and cleanup, when they returned to check the premises, they fund more cockroaches in dirty food trays, so they took the owners to court.
Then there are tales which seem too odd to be believed. In 2009, a Countess was fined £40,000 after health inspectors found a live rabbit living in the kitchen of her hotel in Norfolk.
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