A south London takeaway has come under fire after an inspector found a plastic strip in a tray of chicken fried rice. After Hours Express Limited was given a food hygiene score of one out of five following a visit by Lewisham Council on March 2.
A local authority official has slammed the fast food restaurant for leaving cooked food uncovered on kitchen worktops. A platter of uncovered chicken fried rice that was temperature checked by the inspector was recorded as 23°C, while Buffalo chicken wings left on the counter were 15°C.
An unlocked fridge and freezer were kept in a common area outside at the back of the takeaway. The inspector criticized the practice, saying the food could be tampered with. Lewisham Council previously investigated takeaways for the same issues in 2021 following a complaint. At the time, staff told local authorities it was a temporary measure while the kitchen was being refurbished.
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A food hygiene report sent to After Hours Express Limited on March 14 said: ‘On arrival various trays of cooked food were stored uncovered at room temperature on kitchen worktops. For example, Chicken Fried Rice was recorded at 23°C and Buffalo Wings at 15°C. This is bad practice because harmful bacteria can grow at room temperature. The main concern is the formation of toxins which will not be destroyed by the heat treatment and could lead to food poisoning of consumers.
“At the time of inspection, a foreign object (blue rubber band) was noted inside an uncovered tray containing cooked chicken fried rice stored at room temperature on a counter in the kitchen. Additionally, various Trays of cooked food were kept uncovered on counters throughout the kitchen, exposing food to the risk of contamination.
He continues: “It was observed that two stand-alone refrigerators and one stand-alone freezer were kept in a shared/common external area at the rear of the premises. It was found that only the stand-alone refrigerator dedicated to the storage of raw meat was locked.
“Please note that in 2021 we investigated a complaint regarding the same issue. An officer attended [the] site and was informed that fridges and freezers were temporarily stored outside the premises until the kitchen renovations were completed.
The inspector also criticized the takeaway for placing an electric fly swatter above a counter where food was being prepared. They said the floors were greasy throughout the restaurant, while the fryers were covered in grime. Dirty plastic containers were used to store food.
The Lewisham Council report reads: “The electric fly killer is located on a shelf above a food preparation area…Please move the electric fly killer to an area away from food production to avoid the risk of physical contamination of food.
“At the time of the inspection, the following cleaning violations were noted: An accumulation of grease, dirt and grime was noted on the floors, particularly greasy floors throughout the premises. Fryers and areas adjacent to them and [the] the wok cooking station had an accumulation of grease and dirt. Dirty plastic containers used for food storage.
After Hours Express Limited has been contacted for comment but has not responded at press time.