A COUNTY Durham takeaway owner has been fined more than £1,000 after rat and mouse droppings found during a routine food inspection.

Durham County Council’s food safety team took legal action against Syed Wahid Miah after a routine food inspection found his premises, Indian Spice, in Chester-le-Street, had a number of hygiene concerns.

A visit to Indian Spice by a council environmental health officer on September 20 last year showed various "unhygienic practices" including inadequate cleaning and disinfection of food equipment, inadequate cleaning of the premises, and disrepair to the building’s structure.

The officer also found evidence of mouse activity inside the premises and evidence of an active rat infestation.

Miah agreed to sign a Voluntary Closure Agreement and closed the premises until the satisfactory works had been carried out to remove the risk to public health.

A revisit to the premises in November found that work to improve the takeaway had been taken.

Miah appeared at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to charges of failing to put in place procedures to control pests, failing to keep premises clean and in good repair, failing to keep fittings and equipment effectively cleaned, and failing to ensure that all stages of production, processing and distribution of food was fit for human consumption.

The 42-year-old, of Churchill Street in Chester-le-Street, was fined a total of £1197.46.

Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of community protection, said: “This case is a clear example of how important it is for food business operators to ensure they are operating in line with food safety guidelines to avoid becoming a risk to public health.

“Ensuring the health and safety of our residents is our highest priority, so we will take measures, such as closure or legal action, against food businesses that operate with a risk to customers.”