A TAKEAWAY boss operating an unclean kitchen with “extremely dirty” equipment has appeared in court over food hygiene breaches.

Concerns were raised over standards at Darlington’s Bigger Better Burgers, off Whessoe Road, when a customer complained to Environmental Health that their food was not properly cooked.

Inspectors visited the premises in September 2018 and found no hot water supply to the upstairs of the site and grime and grease covered walls and cooking utensils.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday the shop’s owner, Adam Khalid Ali, 35, accepted the kitchen was unclean, but gave “no reasonable excuse” for the poor hygiene.

Yvonne Wood, prosecuting on behalf of Darlington Borough Council, said: “A letter was sent to the premises on the September 27, explaining the conditions found and that the premises were to be given a hygiene rating of zero stars – the lowest possible.

“Of more than 800 premises in Darlington, 738 are rated as five stars. Only six premises are rated zero.

“On October 24, he attended an interview under caution. He gave no reasonable excuse for the conditions found and following the interview, the council received a letter from Mr Ali explaining changes he had made.”

Ali, of Heathwood Grove, Darlington, was previously convicted for breaching food hygiene standards as named owner of The Green, a pizza takeaway in Cockerton, in 2014. However, he denied controlling day-to-day operations at The Green.

He pleaded guilty to three breaches of food hygiene regulations at Bigger Better Burgers.

Ali, who represented himself, said: “I took pictures the very next day to show changes we made. I understand it was my fault, but this is what I did. I sent a letter and pictures to the council.

“This business is my life – it was something my grandparents wanted for me.”

He added: “I am very proud of what I’ve built up for my business and if you look at the reviews on Just Eat, you can see how happy the customers are. We are proud of the food we serve and the business we have.”

Magistrates had insufficient powers to sentence Ali who will next appear before a district judge at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court in April.