London restaurant fined £10,000 after claiming expired chicken was ‘crabmeat’

An inspection of an East London eatery resulted in a food hygiene rating of zero after containers of mouldy chicken were passed off as “boiled crabmeat”.

Restaurateur Gaby Kolajo was issued the largest possible fine of £10,170 at Stratford Magistrates’ Court in December, including £2,000 in council costs and a £170 victim surcharge, after long-expired meat was found in its kitchen.

The proprietor of Lagos Island in Leyton, East London, which specialises in Nigerian cuisine, told hygiene inspectors that the container of chicken covered in green, furry mould was in fact a speciality Nigerian dish of boiled crab.

A mouse and cockroach infestation had previously been found at the venue in 2018, after which Kolajo was ordered to close the restaurant while the issue was resolved.

However, Kolajo disregarded the order and was caught serving customers at a birthday party in September 2018. Kolajo reportedly made a number of false claims to explain why the diners were there, including insisting that he had closed “half the restaurant”.

Clyde Loakes, deputy leader of Waltham Forest Council said: “The magistrate clearly saw through Kolajo’s claims and used their full powers as a warning that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

“The owner decided to ignore the environmental health officer and the court to continue serving customers, putting their health at serious risk.”

Loakes continued: “As a local authority we have limited powers in what we can do to a business – even one that so egregiously ignores order.

“But you can rest assured that we will use all the powers available to us to take action against the minority of food business operators who do not take their responsibilities seriously like Mr Kolajo.”

The restaurant owner was charged with: failing to keep the premises clean, in good repair and good condition; failing to put in place adequate measures to control pests; opening the premises and preparing and serving food to paying customers while the health risk condition remained imminent; and placing unsafe food on the market which was unfit for human consumption.

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