These are the ‘disgusting’ photos of a Leyland restaurant’s dirty kitchen.
The owner of Isolabella Italian restaurant, on Hough Lane in Leyland town centre, has been fined for failing to meet food hygiene standards.
Giovanni Maullu pleaded guilty to two offences under Food Hygiene Regulations when South Ribble Council took him to court last week, but has since told the Guardian that he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong.
The restaurant was branded with a zero star food hygiene rating earlier this year, and Mr Maullu forked out more than £50,000 in June on a complete refurbishment of the kitchen, which he said was the chance for a new start.
But inspectors from the council re-visited the premises recently, and the outlet scored just one out of five stars under the hygiene rating system.
Mr Maullu was taken to Leyland Magistrate’s Court and admitted to:
- Failing to keep his premises clean and maintained in good repair and condition; and
- Failing to effectively clean and disinfect equipment that comes into contact with food.
He was fined £200 for each offence and ordered to pay £2,940.12 to cover council costs.
“They’re making me feel like a criminal,” he said. “I don’t know why they’re so against me. I’ve been working for 30 years in this job, at different places, and nothing like this has happened before.
“If it was so bad, they would have closed me down. They’re making it sound worse than it is. They’re building up minor details to make a big one.
“To be honest, I think it’s a little bit harsh. I know what I’m doing, and I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong.”
The establishment was placed in a ‘high risk’ category following its first inspection after it opened in 2006. It has since been visited by the council’s food safety experts a number of times, and had previously been given the lowest score of zero stars under the Food Standards Agency’s hygiene rating system.
It occasionally showed signs of improvement, once achieving a rating of three stars, but this was lost following a subsequent inspection when dirt, grime and grease were found on the surfaces, shelves and floor of the kitchen, as well as the cooking equipment.
Another inspection was carried out following a refurbishment of the property earlier this year, but despite the kitchen being new, the outlet scored just one out of five stars under the hygiene rating system.
Mr Maullu was given two cautions relating to a visit in November 2011, when the restaurant was found to have no hot running water and was in a state of uncleanliness. He agreed to close down voluntarily while the issues were addressed. Mr Maullu also failed to produce a written food safety management plan.
But he says he has had the necessary training, and claims the council hadn’t visited him at all this year, until the most recent inspection.
“I feel like they’re trying to belittle and undermine me,” he said. “I’m so depressed about this. I don’t feel like the council is helping me.”
The dad-of-three added: “All the equipment is brand spanking new, so I don’t agree that it’s dirty. Obviously if there’s flour all over the place and on the cooker, it’s difficult to clean off.
“There is charcoal in the pan, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t clean. It’s not going to poison anyone. Under the sink, they said the pipes were dirty, but how am I supposed to clean there when I can’t get to it?”
Dozens of Guardian readers came to the defence of Isolabella earlier this year when it was given zero stars in the hygiene rating system, and Maullu today said: “I think my reputation will get back to normal. I’ve done the work and I’m determined to carry on and look to the future now.
“This is my life - what else am I supposed to do? My savings and my house all depend on this. I want to say to customers that if you put your trust in me, you won’t be disappointed.”
Coun Phil Smith, South Ribble Council’s cabinet member for healthy communities, said: “I would like to reassure anyone who has eaten at Isolabella that, when we feel there is an imminent risk to the health of the public, we have the powers to close down food outlets immediately.”
He added: “We want thriving high streets, so we put in a lot of work to support our food outlets, as we did in this instance. We always try to work with businesses to help them to improve, preferring to educate rather than punish whenever possible.
“There can, however, be no excuses for failing to maintain the most basic standards of hygiene, and the disgusting pictures of the kitchen at Isolabella speak for themselves.
“This prosecution shows that we will take action against anyone who fails to take their responsibilities seriously.”