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Enough to put you off food; EATERIES' HYGIENE PROBLEMS.

RAT and beetle infestations, potentially poisonous food and kitchens covered in grime.

These are just a few of the glimpses behind the scenes in some of Newcastle's dirtiest restaurants.

The Chronicle has seen food hygiene inspection reports for the worst scoring eateries in the city, compiled by council inspectors.

Establishments are each given a rating of 0 to 5 stars under the Scores on the Doors scheme, which allows punters to check the cleanliness of kitchens online before sitting down for a meal.

We asked Newcastle City Council for the full inspection reports for the worst performing restaurants and takeaways that were awarded 0 and 1 star. Inspectors visiting Eemaan Restaurant, Mill Lane, Elswick, awarded zero stars after they found "Foods, namely dried goods were being stored in open bags in the cellar where there was evidence of a rat infestation."

Management of Eemaan Restaurant did not want to comment when contacted by the Chronicle.

The Clay Oven Caf, Side, Newcastle, was also awarded zero stars after food was found to contain potentially-harmful bacteria.

The report read: "On this occasion the sample of turkey julienne was found to be unsatisfactory due to the presence of staphylococcus.

"Staphylococcus is a bacterium which can cause food poisoning. It is associated with people and is commonly found on the skin and hair and in the mouth and nose. Its presence in food is usually due to poor personal hygiene of food handlers."

Inspectors also found its 'ham' pizza topping was actually turkey meat.

The report said: "At the time of my visit you were using the description ham on your menu for pizzas, The label on the packaging showed it to be 'turkey julienne'.

"Ham is cured meat from the hindquarters of a pig. 'Turkey Ham' is not ham, it is turkey meat. You cannot describe the product you are using as 'ham'.

"You can either use real ham or change your menu description to make it clear that you are using turkey."

Owner Houshang Memari said that improvements have been made since the inspection and he now hopes to achieve four star status.

His restaurant was also awarded best kebab shop in the North East 2010.

He said: "A lot of the reasons we got a low star rating was that we hadn't filled in the right forms and records, but we didn't realise how important they were.

"I think the inspectors do a great job and have been very good at helping us put things right."

In the one star Red Mezze, Leazes Park Road, a member of staff was observed to handle raw chicken and prepare raw chicken which had just been delivered while continuing to finish and serve meals.

Red Mezze owners did not want to comment when contacted by the Chronicle.

And the zero star Athena Takeaway in the Groat Market was told to clean up its act after its kitchen areas were found to be covered in grime.

Inspectors found in the servery that: "The double socket outlet resting on the counter top chiller under the counter was grimy. There was grimy cardboard on the lower shelves under the microwaves.

"The lower shelves to the bench at the end of the pizza oven and the bench under the pizza oven were grimy.

"There was debris on the bench behind the cooking equipment and the electric fly filler was full of dead flies.

Mohammed Tadayon, manager of Athena, said the problems identified by the council had all now been addressed.

"When I took this place over it was a complete mess but I have worked very hard to change it and make everything clean and new," he said.

"We had a leak coming from the shop upstairs, so I had taken one of the sockets off because water was leaking down and it was dangerous. I had put tape over the socket for safety.

"This was the socket the council said was dirty because it had tape over it and it was loose. I have spoken to the landlord and that problem has been fixed and there is no longer any leaking water. "The council never found a problem with the food and I want that to be highlighted.

"All the other problems have also now been sorted and I would be happy for the council to come round and see that."

The Godfather Restaurant, Market Street, was give one star when it was last inspected in October 2009.

During the inspection a larder beetle infestation was noted in the dry store and kitchen.

In the kitchen there was debris on the floor under equipment including dirty tea towels which when moved disturbed a number of small flies.

The wall and pipework under the sink unit were grimy and the electronic fly killer was covered with dead insects.

Owner of 11 years Ian Reisner, said he was shocked by the inspector's findings and the problems have now been rectified and staff responsible sacked.

He said: "We have been re-inspected and are awaiting the results but I am confident we will get a three star rating."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 12, 2010
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