A SLOUGH restaurant and takeaway was fined thousands after a customer reportedly became ill from eating their food.

Damasecene, on the High Street, was fined for having unsafe food available to be served when visited by inspectors.

Slough Borough Council launched an investigation into the restaurant, which serves Syrian food, back in 2019 after a customer reportedly fell ill and suspected it was due to the meal they were served.

Food and safety inspectors found bulk quantities of cooked rice which was not cooled down correctly and was not kept at the right temperature allowing potentially harmful bacteria to grow.

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There was also evidence of cross-contamination between raw and cooked food.

They also found other high-risk food kept at the wrong temperatures, allowing dangerous bacteria to grow, and witnessed inadequate cleaning of preparation equipment and utensils.

Samples of food from the restaurant were sent to Public Health England which stated they were indicative of some major food safety failings and presented a significant public health risk.

Slough Observer: The walk in fridgeThe walk in fridge

The restaurant was given zero out of five stars in a visit on 15 August 2019, due to the poor findings which were also found on a repeat visit a month later.

As a result, two Hygiene Improvement Notices were served in September 2019.

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Derar Belel, who owns Damas Rose Limited which trades as Damascene, admitted at magistrates’ court a total of 17 food hygiene breaches from 15 August and 17 September 2019.

Damas Rose Ltd was fined £4,000 and was ordered to pay £5,000 towards the council’s costs and a £181 victim surcharge.

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Mr Belel was fined £175 and ordered to pay a £32 victim surcharge.

The hearing took place Reading Magistrates’ Court on Friday, 12 February.

Mr Belel admitted mistakes were made and he and his team will work hard to improve their food hygiene rating – which is now a four out of five.

He said it had lost 60 per cent of its business due to the pandemic.

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The court heard Mr Belel had commissioned a food consultant to advise the business and employees on best practice and was observed during an inspection in November 2019.

Mr Belel had also completed The Safer Food Better Business Catering pack and all food handlers were trained in the Safe Methods.

Cllr Pavitar K. Mann, cabinet member for planning and regulation, said: “Residents need to be confident the food they purchase from the borough’s food premises is safe.

“On this occasion unsafe food was found for sale and standards were not satisfactory at the business.

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“The food and safety team are there to offer advice and help for businesses who want to check they are carrying out safe and correct procedures. Business owners have a legal and moral responsibility to comply with the law.

“We would encourage all businesses to follow the advice and recommendations they are given by the food and safety team. This will help them be the best they can and prevent customers becoming ill and any subsequent legal proceedings.

“We hope other food establishments are aware of the consequences for not complying with food hygiene standards.”