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Cockroach invasion at Lahore Karahi House in Gillingham High Street was worst hygiene inspector had seen

By Lizzie Massey

A huge infestation of cockroaches were found crawling over the walls and grubby surfaces of a Gillingham restaurant’s kitchen, a court heard.

An inspector described the outbreak at the Lahore Karahi House in High Street, as one of the worst she had seen.

Zia Ur Rehman Cheema appeared before Medway Magistrates Court where he admitted eight hygiene offences at the halal restaurant.

The boss of the Lahore takeaway in Gillingham was fined

The restaurant and takeaway was closed on July 9 last year by Medway council after a complaint was made by a member of the public.

Alan Conroy, prosecuting, said the customer got a whiff of a putrid smell, saw the staff in dirty clothes and had no soap in the toilet to wash her hands.

He added: “There was a large and widely spread cockroach infestation.

“Cockroaches and their fecal matter were on the paper used to wrap the cooked food in.

“There was a general lack of cleanliness and no disinfectant or sanitiser.

“The chopping boards were both used for cooked and uncooked food.

Inspectors look at the cleanliness of surfaces and appliances during their a to a food outlet

“High risk cooked foods, including rice, were left out for long periods of time and fridges were not kept at the right temperature.”

“No staff underwent any training in relation to food hygiene, or in general.”

The restaurant was allowed to reopen in August last year and it has been given a clean bill of health.

However, minor issues around temperature control are still being addressed and Gillian Dawson, who has eight years experience as an environmental health officer, said to magistrates: “Cockroaches are normally nocturnal so for them to be present in the day time, well, it was one of the worst infestations I had ever seen.

“And not just because of the cockroaches, but other offences in relation to cleanliness as well.

Cockroaches were clearly visible in the kitchen

“There are ongoing temperature control issues. It is improving, but there seems to be a lack of understanding.”

Sepehar Ehtesham Khan, defending, said that Cheema, of Virginia Road, Gillingham, had a lack of industry knowledge.

“Cockroaches are normally nocturnal so for them to be present in the day time, well, it was one of the worst infestations I had ever seen" - Gillian Dawson

He took over the Lahore in January 2011 and it was his first business in the restaurant arena.

Mr Khan said: “He was foolish not to research it all properly.

“But we’re thankful it was not more serious than this, it could have been food poisoning.”

Cheema, who also owns Lahore Meat and Grocery in the High Street, was fined £800 - £100 for every charge against him, and ordered to pay £2,100 towards the costs of the inspections, as well as a £20 victim surcharge.

As the owner, Cheema also had to represent Swift Fleet Ltd, a food business operator which operates from Lahore, on a similar set of seven environmental health charges.

Swift Fleet Ltd was fined £1,600.

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