A takeaway owner has been left with a bill for more than £1,300 after falsely claiming his premises had a five-star food hygiene rating.
Harpreet Singh, who runs Jim's Golden Fry in Stockton Road, Seaham, was caught out when environmental health officers visited his premises on June 2 last year.
One of the officers from Durham County Council picked up a menu flyer at the business as he carried out a food hygiene inspection.
He noticed that it contained an image indicating it had been awarded a food hygiene rating of five.
It was later found that the business had not been awarded a level five rating since 2012, and in fact had scored a two on its last inspection.
The leaflets also displayed a Seafish Friers Quality Award mark, despite the fact the award ceased to exist in 2011 and had since been replaced.
At Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court, Mr Singh pleaded guilty to both charges but said it was an old leaflet.
He said he did not know when it had been produced, but he had never distributed to houses within the area.
Following further inquiries, the producer of the leaflets confirmed they had supplied 25,000 of them to Mr Singh in October 2015.
The 27-year-old, who has owned the takeaway since mid-2014, confirmed the business currently has a food hygiene rating of two.
He said the mistake had been made by his cousin who had copied someone else’s menu.
Mr Singh was fined £667 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £66 and costs of £616.42.
Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of environment, health and consumer protection, said after the case: “Customers have the right to make informed choices about where they purchase their food, and we regularly carry out inspections to ensure the public are protected and legal standards are maintained.
“This case should serve as a warning that business owners are responsible for demonstrating correct and up-to-date information, and that anyone failing to do so may pay a heavy fine.”