A CHINESE takeaway owner from Chester has been prosecuted after a customer found a dangerous metal blade in a portion of chips.
Yue Qin Sie, of Acres Lane, Upton, admitted selling chips classed as unfit and unsafe for human consumption.
Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) prosecuted both Sie, 50, and her company Yummy Trading following a complaint to environmental health staff.
Ian Moore, prosecuting for the council, said a customer bought the chips from Venue Fish Bar in Ellesmere Port which Sie owned.
“In essence, a fish and chip shop sold a portion of chips which contained a broken blade from the chip cutting machine,” he said.
West Cheshire Magistrates Court heard the customer went to the takeaway in Chester Road, Whitby, to buy an evening meal for his family on March 19, 2012.
Having bought some Chinese meals and a portion of chips, he returned home.
“The chips were going to be shared by his son and his son’s girlfriend,” said Mr Moore.
“They emptied the Chinese food on their plates using a large spoon and they divided the chips between them using their fingers.”
Mr Moore said the couple went upstairs to eat and were halfway through their meals when the girl noticed “something shiny” sticking out of a chip.
“At first she thought it was a piece of mirror or glass but then realised it was a metal blade,” he said.
Mr Moore said the pair were “shocked” and binned the rest of the food, keeping the blade to show the council’s environmental health service.
Two environmental health officers visited the takeaway on March 22 as part of the investigation and decided the business should be closed down due to the serious nature of the allegation.
Mr Moore said Sie signed a voluntary closure notice and the takeaway was allowed to reopen the next day following another inspection.
Interviewed with the help of an interpreter in April, Sie admitted suspecting something was wrong when the chips being cut were bigger than normal.
She said staff searched the shop in an attempt to track the blade down once they knew the blade was missing.
“They did not find the blade and continued serving regardless,” said Mr Moore.
David Farley, defending, said Sie had run the takeaway since 1993 without any problems.
He admitted the blade was “potentially nasty” and Sie understood she had made a mistake in not closing once the blade went missing.
“They should have closed,” he said.
“It is a big step for them to close their business for the night. They did everything they thought they could at the time.”
Mr Farley said two inexperienced members of staff had been working on the night in question and did not realise the blade had fallen off.
CWaC – whose investigation totalled 31 hours – asked the court for costs amounting to £4,740 which Mr Farley said was “excessive”.
Magistrates told Sie she was fortunate nobody was hurt and the consequences could have been much worse.
Sie and Yummy Trading were each fined £500 and ordered to pay £500 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
Speaking after the hearing, Cllr Lynn Riley, executive member for community and environment, said: “This incident was a very serious offence under food safety legislation and had the potential to cause serious injury to a member of the public.
“Officers from the council’s food safety team investigated and discovered that the owners showed a total disregard for food safety legislation by not taking the appropriate action to avoid this incident from occurring.
“CWaC take these matters very seriously. The general public have a right to expect that the food they buy is safe to eat.”