The owner of a takeaway restaurant in Barry has been fined for creating a dish that carried a ‘significant risk of harm or death’.
On Friday 29 June, Chungfai Li who owns ‘Wongs’ in Broad Street, pleaded guilty to one offence of placing unsafe food on the market under the General Food regulation 2004, at Cardiff Magistrates Court.
Mr Li was fined following a test purchase which was carried out in relation to allergens, on 26 May last year. An order of special fried rice without egg was made, and the business was told it was for someone who was allergic to egg. However, the food was later found to contain 77 times the amount of egg required to cause a reaction in an allergic person.
This test purchase was conducted only three months after an informal test purchase had been carried out in February 2017 which the business had also failed. The business had been visited by officers in the interim and advice given.
The District Judge fully accepted the prosecution’s assessment of culpability as being very high and accepted that the defendant had flagrantly disregarded the law. He stated that the business had clearly insufficient systems in place following the earlier test purchase to prevent egg getting into the dish.
He also accepted the prosecution’s case that whilst no actual harm had been caused, the risk of harm was Category 1 with a significant risk of harm or death. The defence also accepted this assessment.
In mitigation, the defendant’s solicitor, Mr Lee, told the court that the defendant had run the business for 9 years and had no previous convictions.
Mr Li and his wife are horrified at what had happened and are looking to sell the business as they are terrified of being placed in the same position again. They acknowledged that their systems were inadequate and that there are issues with language.
The District Judge accepted the defendant’s early guilty plea and that he had never been in trouble before. He imposed a 12 month community order with 300 hours of unpaid work requirement and ordered him to pay costs of £575 and a victim surcharge of £85. He told Mr Li that in his view if the offence were to happen again he would be sent to prison.
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Shared Regulatory Services at the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cllr Hunter Jarvie, said: “It is imperative that restaurant owners are vigilant at all times when serving food to the public and it is unacceptable that inadequate systems can cause significant risk of harm or death.
“I hope this conviction works as a warning to this business and others, to realise that the Vale of Glamorgan Council will not tolerate this, especially when it comes to the safety of the public.”