A Mullingar-based company has been fined €14,000 for failing to comply with hygiene regulations.
Judge John Neilan imposed fines of €2,500 in four sample charges relating to a HSE visit on December 11 and €4,000 on one sample charge relating to the second visit on December 22 because nothing had been done to improve hygiene conditions since the first visit.
He described the standards at the restaurant as “abysmal and appalling.”
A HSE health inspector visited Saagar, at Austin Friar Street on December 11 2008, and noted a considerable number of serious breaches of hygiene legislation.
The summonses were served on Amblin Ltd, whose registered office is at Unit 2 Dublin Bridge, Dublin.
The litany of complaints included dirty walls, floors and ceilings, congealed grease on a number of surfaces, layers of dust, and rotten peppers and onions on one surface.
Louise Meehan told Mullingar District Court that on her first visit glasses for customers were rinsed in two dirty buckets of water and then polished. Numerous containers of cooked food were at high risk because they were left at room temperature.
There was dirt ingrained in lids, brown food residue on containers, and food was stored in damaged containers. Four wheelie bins were completely full and could not be closed.
On her second visit a box of chicken fillets was left defrosting on the floor of an outside storage room and raw prawns were stored in a fridge above cooked food. None of the previous concerns had been addressed.
The court heard that following the second visit, the small family business which employs ten people had worked with the HSE to improve standards. They have been in business for 18 years and had no previous convictions.
Ms Meehan visited the premises just before the court hearing, and found that all the concerns raised with the company had been addressed.
The judge said customers are entitled to expect the maximum standard of hygiene and that those who prepare food are obliged to protect those patrons who pay large and princely sums in restaurants.
He said patrons were at “grave risk” regarding the manner of failings identified to the court, and highlighted that the premises had also been visited in April and August of 2008.
Among the charges on which the company was convicted were: failing to provide adequate facilities for cleaning, disinfecting, and storing work utensils, failing to ensure that where foodstuffs were held or served at chilled temperatures they are cooled as quickly as possible following the heat processing stage and failing to ensure that the thawing of foodstuffs occurred in such a manner as to minimise the risk of growth of pathogenic micro-organisms.