The owners of a Kenilworth convenience store who have been fined more than £19,000 for persistent food hygiene failures believe their punishment is “completely disproportionate”.
Avtar Sidhu, representing AS Roselands Ltd, and Sukhjit Sidhu, who run Sukhi’s Simply Fresh in Roseland Road, pleaded guilty to 15 offences at Nuneaton Magistrates Court on Tuesday March 28.
The couple have sought legal advice and plan to appeal the fine.
Avtar said the shop’s ability to dispose of waste in the correct way was an issue just after the shop was extensively refurbished two years ago, but he said things had improved recently.
He said: “We take things like this very seriously, and we’re already taking steps to remedy this.
“Ultimately we’re talking about things that happened over a two-year period.
“If some of the members of staff haven’t followed procedures correctly I sincerely apologise for that.”
Avtar added: “It’s difficult out there being an independent business - you see the number of independent businesses falling - but we need to make sure we’re operating the business at the highest of standards.
“But we feel the fine is completely disproportionate and we plan to appeal.”
The court heard there were no adequate procedures in place to show when chilled foods had been put out on display, when items had been defrosted or cooked and when they should have been removed from sale. This resulted in the sale of a mouldy sausage roll.
In addition, there was no proper system in place for checking the temperature of baked-off savouries and chilled foods. There was also evidence of food being displayed at unsafe temperatures.
The court also heard of recurring failures to maintain the cleanliness of the store room and chest freezers and a serious disregard to disposing of waste safely.
Inspectors found decaying food strewn across the shop’s rear yard which was likely to attract flies and vermin.
Despite repeated intervention of Warwick District Council’s Food Safety team and the advice given on making improvements, Mr and Mrs Sidhu consistently failed to improve the shop’s hygiene practices.
Cllr Moira-Ann Grainger, the council’s portfolio holder for health and community protection, said: “Warwick District Council takes the health of our residents very seriously. We work closely with food establishments to encourage the highest of standards.
“We will always take enforcement action against businesses who fail to comply with the standards required of them and as a result put the health of our residents at risk.”
AS Roselands Ltd was fined £11,507.06 including costs and Mrs Sidhu was fined £7,507.06 including costs.
Avtar also claimed the shop had another inspection on Friday March 17 which found the store’s hygiene had improved to a four out of five rating, but at the time of going to press the Food Standards Agency’s website still states the shop has a zero out of five rating from an inspection in August last year - meaning ‘urgent improvement necessary’.
He wants to recall inspectors as soon as possible to try and get a perfect five out of five hygiene rating.
The shop made headlines last Christmas in the KWN when it offered to give away food to vulnerable people in Kenilworth on Christmas Day.