The owners of an Indian takeaway have been banned from running future restaurants after failing to keep a rat infestation under control.
The Pioneer Restaurant, run by brothers Mohammed and Zishan Shafiq, was shut down by magistrates last April due to the immediate risks it posed to public health.
Today a Huddersfield court heard that they were fully aware of the rat problem at the Dewsbury restaurant and takeaway but did not take proper steps to control it.
The brothers were previously prosecuted after selling beef curries advertised as lamb at the Nelson Street business.
They each pleaded guilty to six food hygiene breaches during the hearing at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court.
The business was inspected by environmental health officials on April 7 following a report of rat droppings being found.
Hamza Soren, prosecuting on behalf of Kirklees Council, said: “There was a very strong smell consistent with rat urine as they turned down the steps to the basement and storage area.
“Droppings were found in the main kitchen, under the sink and on shelves near the counter.
“The level of cleaning was poor and there was evidence of smear marks near the rat activity.”
Magistrates were told that large holes were found in the external walls and would have served as the rodents’ likely access route into the building.
There had been problems with rats in the business since 2014 and several recommendations in preventing them had been made by a pest control firm.
But Mr Soren described this as a “box ticking exercise” and said that these works had not been carried out by the time of the inspection.
He said: “Several large holes were still in the walls as well as internal holes which had a strong smell of urine coming from them.
“These allowed rats to gain access to food storage areas and the food was not stored in appropriate conditions.
“There was a significant risk of it being contaminated by urine, faeces and bacteria carried by rats.”
Following the inspection, magistrates were asked to grant a hygiene emergency probation notice and the business was closed for a week for proper cleaning and maintenance to be carried out.
Shahid Ali, mitigating, said that the business had been in the family for 25 years and been passed down to the brothers.
He said that problems with the old building – not owned by his clients – have since been remedied and the restaurant recently received a level four food hygiene rating
Mr Ali added: “Their father was distraught that the business that he built up has now been tarnished by his sons.
“This was a business way bigger than they could have envisaged running and they’ve fallen foul of that.”
Magistrates told the men that they’d shown “wilful blindness” to complying with the pest control firm’s recommendations in getting rid of the rats.
They made an order banning them from operating a fast food or restaurant business in the future and told them to pay a total of £1,566 in fines and court costs.