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The worst case of neglect at a restaurant that we have come across in 15 years

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

March 24th, 2023

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.Mr Sabz Ali Khan, 77, and Miss Sabrina Khan, 41 represented themselves in court. They were found guilty on February 21st, 2023, of 18 offences following a trial at Newport Crown Court.

Both defendants were sentenced today for these offences (March 23rd, 2023).The legal Food Business Operator of Lilo Grill is ‘Nightcover Limited’ and Sabrina Khan is the sole director of the business. Nightcover Ltd was also ordered to pay £18,500. Her father Sabz Khan managed the day-to-day operations of the restaurant.

Cllr Dan De’Ath, Cabinet Member responsible for Shared Regulatory Services at Cardiff Council, 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.

“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.”

The case came to light through a number of food hygiene safety inspections between August 2019 and January 2020.The case officer found that the restaurant had a widespread and uncontrolled rat infestation with open drains allowing rats to enter from the sewers. There were rat droppings throughout the premises; holes in the walls and ceiling; rat urine running down the walls in the dry store; rats under the cooking equipment and behind the grills and evidence that rats 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.

The rodents had caused significant damage to the property, including:

  • Extensive damage to the inside of the building including eating through two cavity walls and behind the chest freezer
  • Significant damage to the ceiling in the dry store
  • Gnawing through the shelving, doors, door frames and electric cabling.

Neglect Cardiff restaurant 2When the officer investigated the smell in the restaurant, it became clear that the rats were living under the floor where customers were eating their food, but the rat 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 and several other faults were also identified:

  • There were widespread cross contamination problems between handling raw meat and ready to eat foods.
  • Salad was stored in an unlit, rat-infested 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 when chilled food 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.

On August 15th, 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 August when the works had been carried out. 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; Sabrina Khan was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and Sabz Ali Khan was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,500 in costs.The council understands that Mr Sabz Ali Khan is appealing his conviction.