HEAVY fines left a bad taste in the mouth of Darlington takeaway owners today (Monday, May 12).

Two businessmen ended up before magistrates after routine inspections uncovered filthy conditions and health risks at their premises.

The owners of The Green, in Cockerton, and Simo’s Pizza, on Brignall Moor Crescent, appeared separately at Darlington Magistrates Court charged with a number of hygiene related offences.

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Contamination risks and “extremely dirty” conditions greeted environmental health officers who visited The Green in February.

Work surfaces and tiles were covered in grime, drinks were stored close to the toilet and staff members were not suitably dressed or appropriately aware of food safety issues, Yvonne Wood, prosecuting on behalf of Darlington Borough Council, told magistrates.

The shop’s owner, Adam Khalid Ali – of Marwood Crescent, Darlington – pleaded guilty to four contraventions of the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations Act, including failing to register the business with the council.

Representing himself, he said family problems, including the death of his grandmother, had led to the business becoming neglected.

He said: “Since the inspection, we have turned things around, we have our staff in uniform and a cleaner comes in three times a week.

“I know the shop has been neglected but things have changed and I apologise for how things were.”

Ali, 30, was fined £300 for each offence and ordered to pay costs of £375 and a victim surcharge of £120.

Asad Aria, 39, was also heavily fined after pleading guilty to four contraventions of the same act after inspectors found dirty equipment, a lack of awareness of food safety issues and a lack of management control at Simo’s Pizza.

At the premises, raw hamburger was found stored next to cooked meat, food was not being kept cool while defrosting and hand basins were not in regular use, said Mrs Wood.

Callum Terry, mitigating, said Aria – of Angle Street, Middlesbrough – had since undertaken a course in food hygiene, was extremely sorry and accepted that the conditions had required immediate improvement.

In total, Aria was fined £1,200 and ordered to pay costs of £457.

Councillor Chris McEwan, of Darlington Borough Council, said: “The vast majority of catering premises in Darlington comply with food hygiene legislation and respond positively to advice they are given.

“However, if they fail to meet these standards, the council will take action to protect the health of the public.”

Both premises remain operational.