A fast food outlet in Lerwick has come under fire after failing to comply with food hygiene regulations.
The Turkish Delight in Harbour Street has been described as a “dirty and unhygienic premises” following inspections by the council’s environmental health department – although efforts have since been made to clean up its act.
At Lerwick Sheriff Court today the take-away’s owner, Saban Kusmus, 49, admitted nine charges relating to food hygiene regulations between August 2011 and January this year.
The court heard the failings were “significant” and demonstrated “a very real risk to public health”.
Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Kusmus had shown a lack of co-operation, despite a “very pro-active” approach from environmental health officials which included providing leaflets written in Kusmus’s native Turkish.
Mr MacKenzie said: “The environmental health department have a very pro-active policy of engaging with businesses, and attempt to achieve compliance by offering encouragement and assistance as well as practical advice.
“They had been following that policy with Mr Kusmus for some considerable time and they were faced with a complete lack of co-operation. Information was provided to him in leaflets written in Turkish, and he has had training in the past.
“It’s clear it was a positive choice on his part to operate dirty and unhygienic premises. These are basic food hygiene failings. They are significant and do constitute a very real risk to public health.”
Mr MacKenzie added Kusmus’s attitude reflected his mood towards the court proceedings, which have been drawn out over months and eventually required a warrant to be taken for his arrest.
“Environmental health remain committed to working with him, and I don’t think Mr Kusmus appreciates the seriousness of these offences,” he added.
Defence agent Tommy Allan said environmental health had told him that many improvements had been made since the offences came to light, although he was not in a position to give a report with “gold stars”.
“There is a continued relationship with Mr Kusmus to help him continue with the improvements,” Mr Allan said.
He added Kusmus had gone back to Turkey when his mother, who lives there, was taken into hospital.
She was discharged but had to go back in soon after, and Kusmus cancelled his return journey, losing money in the process.
Back home, Kusmus had also been in hospital himself for a month and a half after suffering from a heart problem.
Other people had been looking after his business during that time, said Mr Allan.
“They did not do that well and, whilst it is his responsibility to make sure everything was complied with, he accepts that during his recovery period he was not able to be properly in control.”
Mr Allan added Kusmus was now being helped by his son. Environmental health could have closed down Kusmus’s fast food outlet, but had not done so.
“They haven’t done that, but it has been made very clear to me that they can do this to him. Mr Kusmus is committed to running his shop and keeping the business going with his son. It is an addition to the variety of cuisine that is offered in Shetland.”
Deferring sentence until after the New Year, sheriff Philip Mann called for a report to be compiled by environmental health.
Kusmus will appear in court again on 24th January.