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Chelmsford City Council successfully prosecutes takeaway

Chelmsford Magistrate's Court
Pictured: Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court

A Chinese takeaway in Goat Hall has been ordered to pay £13,000 in charges by a District Judge at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court.

The business owner pleaded guilty to failing to comply with Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations.

Multiple warnings issued ahead of court proceedings

The decision to bring charges against the takeaway came after a routine inspection in late 2022 found several regulation contraventions and resulted in a Food Hygiene Rating Scheme score of 1. Before this visit, ratings as low as 2 had been given, and multiple warnings had been issued regarding necessary improvements.

Officers from the council’s Public Health and Protection Services team carry out regular environmental health inspections at any business serving food to the public. These inspections ensure that businesses are complying with hygiene standards set by the Food Standards Agency. There are three areas inspectors consider:

  • Cleanliness and condition of facilities and building (including layout, ventilation, hand washing facilities and pest control)
  • Management of food safety (meaning the systems/checks in place to ensure that food served is safe to eat)
  • Hygienic food handling (including preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage)

In this case, there were Food Safety and Hygiene Standards contraventions in all three areas.

Councillor Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for a Greener and Safer Chelmsford, says while officers do what they can to support businesses in improving their standards, public health will always remain the priority.

“We expect businesses across the Chelmsford district to operate at the highest standards. Where that is not the case, our Environmental Health officers will give them the time needed to comply and guide them in how to do so. What we will not do is tolerate risk to the public.

“This case should serve as a reminder to other food outlets that environmental health inspections and their outcomes are a serious matter, and that our officers will pursue all avenues in order to protect people from harm.”

Councillor Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for a Greener and Safer Chelmsford

Lack of good hygiene practice and pest control concerns

On 30 September 2022, council officers found multiple contraventions, including:

  • An environment not permitting good hygiene practice, including protection against contamination, particularly pest control.
  • Large quantities of rodent droppings found in one area of the kitchen.
  • The lavatory opened directly into a room where food was being handled.
  • A lack of suitable food management procedures in place.
  • Design/management of the refuse store did not enable it to be kept clean and free from animals and pests.

A record of the visit was left with the business owner, detailing the required works, and a follow-up visit was made on 13 October 2022. Inspectors noted that, while improvements had begun, progress was not sufficient, and significant contraventions remained.

The next step was to conduct a formal interview with the business owner; during which no reasonable explanation for the contraventions was provided. Officers therefore proceeded with legal action.

Judge ordered business owner to pay £13,000

On 21 December 2023, at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court, the owner of Canton Chef takeaway pleaded guilty to failing to comply with Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations. He was ordered to pay a £6,000 fine, plus a victim surcharge and all court costs for the prosecution, to be paid within 12 months.

Among his remarks, the Judge noted, “previous warnings have been given to you and these issues have been going on for many years... Matters like this are of great concern to the court and the public... Customers are buying food in good faith – they do not know what is going on behind the counter.”

Canton Chef has been allowed to continue trading while making the necessary improvements, as the Judge ruled it did not pose an imminent risk to public health. The Judge noted his belief that the owner showed “genuine goodwill” and accountability. He also acknowledged that improvements had been made since the charges were filed and that construction works to improve the building and facilities were ongoing.

The council’s Environmental Health officers continue to make regular visits to the business, to monitor these works and ensure standards are satisfactory.

Always check Food Hygiene ratings

Umbraco Size (1200X800)
Food Hygiene Ratings may not be displayed on site, but you can always check them online.

Any business that sells or serves food to the public will have a Food Hygiene Rating, in accordance with the Food Standards Agency. Some food outlets display their Hygiene Rating, but it is not compulsory to do so.

You can always find the current Food Hygiene Rating of a business on the FSA website. By searching the business’ name and location, you can find the overall rating (as is often seen on window stickers), as well as a breakdown of that rating.

Canton Chef is currently rated 1, meaning major improvement is necessary.


If you have any concerns about hygiene standards at establishments anywhere in the Chelmsford District, please report them to the council’s Environmental Health team.

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Molly Smith
Molly Smith

Molly writes stories about public health, community safety, leisure, community sport, parking and Chelmsford Market.