An unhygienic food outlet has been handed a substantial fine after several inspections found ‘very serious problems’.

A mouse-infested Banbury takeaway, the Lebanese Wraphouse Ltd, has been fined £221,617 and its director barred from the catering industry following a council prosecution.

At a hearing at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Friday July 15, the company and its director Yassine Al-Ashkar of Banbury were found guilty of a series of offences related to the condition of the premises at the Bridge Street Unit, and the storage and preparation of food there.

The defendant pleaded guilty to a total of 21 offences in his capacity as director of the business, and to one further charge brought against him personally.

The magistrate ordered the business to pay a total of £221,617 in fines, costs and a victim surcharge, and Al-Ashkar personally was ordered to pay a further £894.

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In 2021, an unannounced inspection found rodent dropping in areas where food was stored and prepared.

The business closed voluntarily for a deep clean and pest control.

However, despite a dozen officer visits during 2021, the business owner failed to engage.

Another unannounced inspection in February 2022 found that the sink had been removed, meaning basic hygiene could not be maintained.

Officers also discovered the staircase was damaged and an improvised wooden structure was being used to access the first floor, presenting a serious risk of injury to staff.

Portfolio Holder for Safer Communities Councillor Eddie Reeves said: “There are some fantastic places to eat out, pick up a takeaway or order in from in north Oxfordshire.

“Local people and visitors expect these venues to be safe, clean and hygienic, and the vast majority of them are.

“In this instance we encountered not only some very serious problems, but a business which stubbornly failed to respond to our repeated attempts to help bring its operations up to standard.

“Due to the seriousness and persistence of the offending in this case, the magistrate has fined the business £10,000 per offence.

“That serves as a very serious deterrent to any other businesses who are tempted to break the rules and put their customers’ and staff’s safety at risk.”

The council was also granted a hygiene prohibition order, meaning Al-Ashkar can no longer be part of the management of any food business.

Other issues identified on the premises included a build-up of dirt and debris, damage to the floor and an absence of soap and hand drying facilities at the hand wash basin.

After finding out that there was no running water at the premises, officers served a hygiene emergency prohibition notice to formally close the business.

They also served a health and safety notice to prohibit use of the unsafe wooden structure.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing:

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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