Northamptonshire fish and chip shop closed over risk to public health

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Environmental health officers have used emergency powers to close a takeaway after hygiene conditions were deemed so poor they could pose a public health risk.

Joe’s Traditional Fish & Chips on Cannon Street, Wellingborough, was closed on May 27 after a routine inspection by officers revealed hygiene conditions so poor it was felt they posed an imminent health risk to the public.

The premises will remain closed until we are satisfied it is safe for the public to eat there

Health protection manager Amanda Wilcox

It will remain closed until conditions improve.

Two environmental health officers from Wellingborough Council visited the takeaway on May 27 and noted that some areas of the shop were dirty, with no hot water available for cleaning food preparation areas and equipment, or for adequate personal hygiene of employees.

They found unfit mouldy food stored in the fridge and numerous high risk food items which had been left out of temperature control since the previous evening.

There was also a potato peeling machine set up to operate in an external passageway with the pipework discharging into an open drain which had the cover removed.

The officers determined that these issues constituted an imminent health risk and served a hygiene emergency prohibition notice on the company Jay & Co (Midlands) Limited, to prevent use of the premises as a food business until the risk is removed.

The matter was heard in Northampton Magistrates Court on May 29, where it was agreed that there was an imminent health risk.

A court order was issued for the takeaway to remain closed until the council is satisfied there is no further risk to the public.

The court also awarded the council’s full costs of £735 incurred in the closure.

Environmental health officers will now continue to work with the business to ensure conditions are improved before reopening, to make sure there is no risk to public health.

Amanda Wilcox, health protection manager at Wellingborough Council, said: “Officers in the health protection team work informally with all local food businesses to make sure they know how to manage food safety.

“However, if we find conditions that we believe pose an imminent risk to public health, we won’t hesitate to take formal action to remove that risk.

“We only use these powers in exceptional circumstances, and we have to be able to demonstrate to a court that an imminent risk exists.

“In this case the court agreed with our actions and the premises will remain closed until we are satisfied it is safe for the public to eat there.”

There is an ongoing investigation taking place into the conditions witnessed on May 27.