A takeaway has had its licence suspended by Highland councillors after a damning report called it a “serious threat to public safety”.
Environmental health officers raised serious concerns about Zoom Takeaway in Baron Taylor Street after carrying out an inspection.
Members of Highland Council’s licensing committee met this morning to decide the business’s fate.
After hearing from environmental health officer Patricia Sheldon and takeaway owner Mohamed Afif, the councillors unanimously decided to suspend Zoom’s licence.
That suspension remains in place until evidence is provided that improvements have been made.
What did the owner have to say?
Mr Afif appeared at the committee and told councillors he had submitted all the documentation they needed.
While waving papers at the screen, he said: “They did ask me to clean the place and I did. Everything they asked for, I made this happen.
“I have been in the catering business for 25 years, I was a chef.
“Come any time to visit the place.”
Ms Sheldon’s report outlined a number of areas where Zoom had fallen short.
During previous inspections in 2019, officers called the standard of cleaning “poor”.
Some items – like lettuce and coleslaw – were not being refrigerated.
There were also no records to show that the temperature of meat products was being checked before it was served.
Ms Sheldon told the committee today: “We will not be visiting again until the right documentation is sent.
“We haven’t revisited because in the past, Mr Afif has said he has complied and that was not the case.
“It’s in his own interests to submit a comprehensive plan to us, showing he has met the criteria.”
A complaint was made about Zoom last year, prompting environmental health to carry out an inspection on September 15.
The report said: “A poor standard of food hygiene and safety was observed at the business.
“Consequently, three hygiene improvement notices were served.
“These notices were served to secure an improvement in cleaning and hygiene, plan and implement a food safety management system and undertake an allergen assessment.”
A further visit was made by environmental health in October.
A small improvement in hygiene had been made but two of the three complaints remained in place.
Officers returned three times in January 2022 but each time, the food hygiene and safety was described as “unsatisfactory”.
A remedial action notice was served on Mr Afif.
That meant the business was stopped from operating until it complied with food safety requirements.
What did the councillors decide?
There were also concerns raised about the business’s gas and pipework maintenance, but steps have been taken to address this.
Licensing committee chairman Andrew Jarvie said it appeared that Mr Afif had taken some action, but it was still “falling short of what environmental has asked for”.
He said: “This has been running for quite some time.
“I would propose the licence suspension is continued with immediate effect.
“The management plan has not yet been received and the level of compliance with food safety regulations has not been demonstrated.”
The other councillors agreed with Mr Jarvie’s assessment.
Mr Afif replied: “I’m happy to deal with them until they’re happy.
“It’s no problem for me, what can I say?”