A kebab shop owner has moaned that he has hardly any customers after mice and rodent droppings were found in his takeaway.
Fateh Khodadodi claimed his livelihood had been damaged by press coverage of the case after he pleaded guilty to four food hygiene charges.
The owner of the Turkish Kebab and Pizza House in west Belfast was fined a total of £800 at Belfast Departmental Magistrates Court last week.
A solicitor for Belfast City Council told the court that on March 14, 2019, environmental health officers called to the premises on the Andersonstown Road to carry out a routine hygiene inspection.
At the back of the premises an officer saw mice droppings at the entrance door and noted it was not pest-proof as there was a large gap at the bottom of the door.
Khodadodi was told to clean up the droppings so the officer could see if there was mice activity on the premises and to pest-proof the rear entrance.
The lawyer said the area was so dirty the officer had difficulty inspecting the join between the wall and the floor.
Another door leading to a rear storage area was also not adequately pest-proof as one of the panels was missing from the top half of the door. More mouse droppings were also found on concrete skirting in the same area.
The food preparation area and the front serving area also needed cleaning, as did the floors under equipment due to food debris and grease.
Sinks and hand basins in the food preparation area didn't have running hot water, which Khodadodi told the officer was due to the hot water cylinder not working properly but he had a kettle to boil water.
The lawyer told the court that not having running hot water is classed as a significant food safety infringement.
His microwave, hot plate, knife sharpener, ventilation canopy and walk-in fridge were also not properly cleaned. The officer told Khodadodi to clean the premises and to get a pest control contractor to check for pests.
An officer came back the next day and saw mouse droppings in the rear food storage area, in the preparation area, under the pizza oven, in the toilet and store room.
When the officer looked behind the chest freezers he saw a live mouse. Khodadodi then agreed to voluntarily close the premises and called Rentokil.
Three more visits were made but there were still issues with pest-proofing and cleaning with more droppings noticed in the pizza preparation area and beside pizza toppings.
An inspection on March 20 noted pest-proofing had been put in place and Rentokil confirmed no mice had been caught in any traps.
A final inspection in March 23 found no more droppings or mice and the officer agreed to the reopening of the business.
Khodadodi was given a written warning and then interviewed that August when he claimed the pests got in after the rear door was left open.
The court was told Khodadodi was aware of the standard of cleanliness required following inspections in 2016 and 2017 which also found that cleaning was needed. Khodadodi represented himself at the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, speaking via an interpreter.
He said his hot water boiler takes a while to heat up and that the rear door was only ajar about three centimetres and a second door to the shop was properly closed. Khodadodi also said that one of the visits by the officer was at 7pm which is their busiest time of day.
He added that previous coverage of the case had lead to a downturn in business and that he now has hardly any customers.
District Judge George Conner said there were "serious matters that go directly to the health of anyone using these premises and eating the food".
Khodadodi was fined £200 on each charge plus court costs of £72 and given six months to pay.