Pizza parlour's second hygiene lapse

A PIZZA restaurant was today forced to defend its hygiene standards after food safety officers discovered out of date food and dirty equipment in its kitchen.

A PIZZA restaurant was today forced to defend its hygiene standards after food safety officers discovered out of date food and dirty equipment in its kitchen.

Mouldy cheese and out-of-date prawns were discovered in the fridge at Milano Pizzeria in Norwich Road, Ipswich, along with an open drain in a corridor.

Despite repeated warnings to clean up and a previous owner being banned from selling food, the business has been given another damning hygiene report.

Officers from Ipswich Borough Council's Food Safety Team threatened owner Aspasia Synadinou with a £5,000 fine and closure after they recorded a new catalogue of dangerous problems. They gave the restaurant two months to clean up its act after they found:

Mouldy cheese and out-of-date prawns in the toppings chiller

Ovens, mixers, surfaces, walls and five separate floors "dirty and covered in food"

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Dirty clothes, bags of rubbish and shoes "encrusted with food" left around the premises, along with dirty cloths

The toilet, floor and wall tiles broken, causing the growth of mould and the potential pooling of stagnant water

The back door to the restaurant damaged with a large hole potentially allowing entry for pests

Lids used for storing dough and toppings mouldy and melted, paint flaking from a ceiling and an appliance, and an uncovered drain in a corridor, all threatening further pollution to food

Staff handling food uninstructed, unsupervised and lacking knowledge of food hygiene

The restaurant, which was unlocked and unattended when inspectors arrived, was also found to have a fridge full of beer, despite holding no licence to sell alcohol. Ms Synadinou claims the booze was for staff.

Shortly after the inspection Ms Synadinou began renting out the restaurant to new manager Hassan Marzouk. All deadlines for solving hygiene problems were declared invalid to enable him to start afresh.

Ms Synadinou, a mother-of-three who has been in England 15 years after moving from Athens, Greece, said: “I did a health and safety course and they told me to fix some stuff, which I did. If there was any problem about the food they would have shut it down.

“If the food was dirty someone would complain about food poisoning - which hasn't happened.

“Maybe the prawns were out of date but I chucked the worker who did it out of the business.”

Milano is one of eleven Ipswich restaurants to have been served with council orders to improve their hygiene since 2006.

MILANO Pizzeria has had a chequered hygiene history. The restaurant was taken over by Aspasia Synadinou in 2005, after prosecution began against its former owner - her ex-husband, Ayman Nagib.

He was banned from managing any food outlet in England or Wales after being convicted of breaching food hygiene regulations. Rat droppings were found in a pizza oven and other health hazards were discovered by inspectors while he was in charge.

After her ex-husband's court case, Ms Synadinou was keen to stress he was no longer involved with running the restaurant.

Following the latest findings by the council, Ms Synadinou denied mouldy cheese had been found by inspectors. She added: "The oven was not dirty and there was no open drain in the restaurant."

New manager Hassan Marzouk said he had also acted on the criticisms made of Ms Synadinou's food safety record. He said: “We have made the changes - the restaurant is completely different now. We have lots of new customers.”

An Ipswich Borough Council spokesman said: “Following a food safety re-inspection of Milano to check compliance with legal notices, the council discovered the business had changed hands.

“As a result, a further inspection was made to assess compliance under the new management. We are working closely with the new food business operator to ensure compliance with food safety legislation within the business.

“We take all issues of food safety very seriously indeed.”

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