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Fast food van gets hygiene ultimatum
A PAIR of kebab van owners were warned they were “drinking at the last-chance saloon” after a series of hygiene failures.
Brother and sister Mehdi and Wadeya Karrouchi were told they could be stripped of their street-trading licence for Mehdi’s in Oxford High Street if they carry on breaking food safety rules.
Oven cleaner was used to clean surfaces and raw meat was stored next to drinks cans in a fridge, the city council’s licencing and registration sub-committee was told on Monday night.
Mr and Mrs Karrouchi were told to improve various aspects of the way they work after a visit from environmental health officers in late March.
Concerns raised included issues with food safety management, refrigeration, disinfection and waste.
Environmental health officer Lyndsey Key said another visit during the summer raised fresh concerns.
She said: “The last re-visit I did on August 29 was to assess compliance with hygiene improvement notices.
“There was no Dettol spray or similar anti-bacterial spray. There was heavy-duty oven cleaner being used on work surfaces, and the fact that was in use I think shows a serious lack of understanding of a couple of areas of food safety.
“There were raw burgers up against drinks cans in the fridge.”
But Mrs Karrouchi said she was willing to address any concerns the council had.
She said: “Our priority is giving people safe and healthy food. Any issues you have, we are willing to resolve them.”
Licencing officer Samantha Howell said problems with the van in question went back several years. She said: “There have historically been problems with the van since before Lyndsey and I came to Oxford City Council.”
She said the catalogue of concerns dated back to 2007.
Labour councillor Van Coulter said: “You say you’re seeking to improve but when it’s something as fundamental as cross-contamination and when one of your main cleaning agents is an oven scourer, that’s a big concern. I find it hard that after maybe five years of advice from officers, this is still going on.”
The Karrouchis were sent out of the room while councillors decided their fate, and then called back in to be given an ultimatum.
Chairing the meeting, Labour’s Colin Cook said: “We take a very dim view of your repeated failures to comply with the officers’ requests.
“You’re very much drinking at the last-chance saloon.”
He said officers would be asked to visit the van more regularly and the licence could be revoked if requirements were not met.
Legal officer Daniel Smith also warned that the environmental health team may wish to prosecute the pair separately.