Sunday, 23 Jun 2024

Knightsbridge restaurant fined £16k for cockroach infestation

Lebanese restaurant is forced to shut in Knightsbridge and fined £16,000 after cockroaches found crawling in food containers

  • EXCLUSIVE: Masgouf was fined after inspectors found it riddled with pests 
  • Have you found cockroaches in your food? Email [email protected] 

A filthy Lebanese restaurant in London’s swanky Knightsbridge district has been fined more than £16,000 after cockroaches were found scurrying in food containers.

Masgouf, in Connaught Street, was forced to shut after appalled inspectors found the venue’s kitchen infested by the disease-spreading pests. 

Mouse droppings were also discovered throughout the eatery and boxes of fresh fish were stored outside in waste area.

The site was inspected by food and hygiene chiefs at Westminster City Council, where health watchdogs unearthed ‘significant lapses in cleaning standards’.

Masgouf – where fish dishes can cost up to £80 – pleaded guilty to five breaches of food and hygiene standards, and was ordered to pay a total of £16,245.

Live cockroaches were found inside the Masgouf restaurant during an inspection by health chiefs

Mouse droppings were also found throughout the Knightsbridge eatery 

Concerns were also raised over how food was prepared, with boxes of fresh fish stored outside in waste area

Masgouf, in Connaught Street, was forced to shut after appalled inspectors found the venue’s kitchen infested by the disease-spreading pests

Councillor Aicha Less, deputy leader of Westminster council and cabinet member for communities, public protection and licensing said: ‘We want residents and visitors to enjoy the city’s fantastic bars and restaurants safe in the knowledge that food is not being cooked in appalling conditions.

‘The detail of this case shows a complete disregard for the most basic of hygiene standards. I hope this sizable fine awarded acts as a serious warning to other premises.’

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard live cockroaches and mice droppings were found at Masgouf during an inspection on October 5, 2022. 

Concerns were also raised about how fresh fish was stored outside in waste areas before being cooked and served to customers. 

Further inspection revealed cockroaches crawling in containers used to store onions, mouse droppings in the kitchen and cooked meat and rice left to cool incorrectly. 

Additional food hygiene concerns were raised after the restaurant’s chef admitted to officers he would ‘regularly leave food to cool for up to four hours at ambient room temperature’, Westminster council said. 

Masgouf, run by Akeel Ali Kadem, was immediately closed and remained shut after council officers found cockroaches were still plaguing the site during a follow-up check a few weeks later. The site has since re-opened.

Cockroaches were still found at the site during a reinspection a few weeks after it was visited in October 2022, prompting the restaurant to remain closed  

Cockroaches were found scurrying inside containers used to store onions

A criminal probe was later launched into the outlet, with the company prosecuted for five offences contrary to the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations 2013. 

The firm pleaded guilty to all five offences during a court hearing on October 25 of this year. 

Justices initially fined the restaurant £12,000, before increasing it to £16,000. It was later reduced to £10,600 following credit for an early guilty plea.

Combining costs, victim surcharges and the fine, the restaurant was ordered to pay a total of £16,245. 

Knightsbridge is frequented by the rich and famous and counts some of the capital’s most glitzy restaurants, including some run by Michelin-starred chefs.  

MailOnline has approached Masgouf for comment.

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