29 Mar

Credit: Google

A father and daughter have been ordered to pay £10,000 in total for a string of health and safety offences - including a rat infestation - at the Lilo Grill restaurant on City Road, Cardiff.

The offences were described as 'the worst case of neglect at a restaurant that we have come across in 15 years' by health and safety inspectors that visited the site.

Mr Sabz Ali Khan, 77, and Miss Sabrina Khan, 41, represented themselves at Newport Crown Court, where they were found guilty on 21 Feburary, 2023 of 18 offences. 

Both defendants were sentenced on Thursday, 21 March.

The legal Food Business Operator of Lilo Grill is 'Nightcover Limited', and Sabrina Khan is the sole director of the business. They were also ordered to pay £18,500.

Sabrina's father, Sabz, managed the day-to-day operations of the restaurant.

Councillor Dan De'Ath, Cabinet Member responsible for Shared Regulatory Services in Cardiff, said:

"I have been reliably informed by the case officer that this is the worst case of neglect at a restaurant that we have come across in the past 15 years. Not only was the state of the property an absolute disgrace that put their customers at risk, but the manager was also very unhelpful and obstructive throughout the investigation.

"To top it all off, the argument he used in his defence that the rats in the restaurant were due to the proximity of students living in the area, is quite honestly laughable."

He also added:

"If you own or run a food business, you have responsibilities which are laid out in law. If you do not follow the correct practices and allow your business to go into a state of disrepair, you are putting your customers at risk of disease and infection."

Poor conditions at the Lilo Grill restaurant on City Road in Plasnewydd - Credit: Cardiff Council

The case itself came to light through a number of food hygiene safety inspections between August 2019 and January 2020.

The officer found that the restaurant had a widespread and uncontrolled rat infestation with open drains, allowing the rodents to enter from sewers.

There were rat droppings throughout the premises, urine running down the walls in the dry store and holes in the walls. Rats were seen under the cooking equipment and even behind the grills. 

Evidence made clear that that they were dragging away raw meat left out to defrost, leaving streaks of blood on surfaces, as well as eating grease from blocked drains and fat dripping from the extractor fan.

When the officer investigated the smell in the restaurant, it became clear that the rodents were living under the floor where customers were eating their food, however the infestation wasn't the only problem at the restaurant.

The staff were also found to have very poor hygiene practices and were not trained or supervised correctly.

Several other faults were also identified, including:

  • There were widespread cross contamination problems between handling raw meat and ready to eat foods.
  • Salad was stored in an unlit storeroom which was full of refuse sacks.
  • The cooked meat removed from the grill was placed on the same surfaces used to keep raw meat waiting to go onto the grill to cook.
  • The meat was cooked in filthy metal racks held together with gaffer tape so the racks could not be cleaned.
  • Refrigeration of food was generally poor. The raw fish in the chilled display was found to be over 20°C, which must legally be stored below 8°C.
  • Information that should have been kept in the Food Safety Management System was incomplete and not kept up-to-date, with evidence found that staff were falsifying records.

A rat hole at Lilo Grill - Credit: Cardiff Council

On 15 August, 2019, Mr Khan agreed to close the business voluntarily until the required works had been carried out, and was given permission to reopen at the end of that same month.

A number of Improvement Notices were issued for both food hygiene and health and safety offences and a number of these were not complied with, so the case was filed for legal action.

Nightcover Ltd was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £6,500 in costs, whereas Sabrina Khan was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs. Her father, Sabz Ali Khan, was fined £5,000 as well as an additional £2,500. 

Cardiff Council understands that Mr Khan is appealing his conviction.

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