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New Malden shopkeeper fined for catalogue of food safety risks

A New Malden shopkeeper who sold untraceable ready meals, including a sample which tested 'unsatisfactory', amid dirty conditions has been penalised more than £2,200 for multiple food safety offences.

Thambirajah Vaseekharan, the owner of Ayngaran Food and Wine in Burlington Road, admitted 18 offences including failing to ensure food was protected against contamination when he appeared before Lavender Hill Magistrates earlier this month.

The court heard that Kingston Council environmental health inspectors found serious breaches on several visits between September and December last year including:

  • insect-infested bags of rice
  • dirty, blood-stained butchery walls and floors 
  • food kept at temperatures above legal limits
  • raw meat in contact with fruit and vegetables
  • no proper hand-washing facilities for staff
  • a wash-hand basin in a butchery area full of beetroot
  • a dirty microwave and chiller

Inspectors were also concerned about pre-packed ready meals on sale. The source on the labels could not be traced. Businesses are legally responsible for ensuring the traceability of pre-packed food they buy and that they are buying from reputable suppliers.

On one inspection the ready meals were being stored at more than twice the legal temperature.

Samples were sent to a laboratory for tests, which showed three of the four products were of ‘borderline’ quality and the other was ‘unsatisfactory’ with high levels of bacteria. The rest of the meals were disposed of.

The court heard that despite staff having been given government funded food safety training, standards were consistently poor.

Vaseekharan apologised and told the court that he was making substantial improvements. He was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £1,215 costs plus a £15 victim surcharge.

“We take food safety seriously as people’s health is at stake. We work with businesses so that they understand the importance of good hygiene and we take action against dirty and poorly maintained premises.”

Councillor Liz Green, Kingston Council leader