Vincenzo Fuccio has now left La Vecchia Scuola and the restaurant trades under new management. See New start for La Vecchia Scuola for further information.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: YORK is “incredibly lucky” not to have suffered an outbreak of food poisoning due to a city-centre restaurant’s poor kitchen hygiene, a court has heard.

City of York Council food safety officers tried for years to persuade Vincenzo Fuccio, 43, to clean up his act at La Vecchia Scuola in Low Petergate, Anna Barker, prosecuting, told York Magistrates Court.

But he continued to ignore basic kitchen safety rules such as keeping raw and cooked meat apart and failed to keep cooking tools and surfaces clean.

Magistrates banned Fuccio indefinitely from managing any food business. They heard he had been sacked as the restaurant’s manager and it is now run by completely new management.

Fuccio, now of Garden Street in Brighton, pleaded guilty to 13 food hygiene offences and asked for 16 more to be taken into consideration.

Magistrates said he had shown a”blatant disregard” of the regulations, but their powers were limited to a fine and by his income.

They fined him £3,200, and ordered him to also pay £2,000 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

The restaurant received a zero rating under the council’s five-star rating system for food hygiene when it was inspected in 2011.

Ms Barker said of Fuccio’s offences: “These could have had a very serious impact on public health. We are incredibly lucky. All of the incidents I have outlined could have led to food poisoning. It could have happened to anyone who ate at that restaurant. These offences could have led to something much more serious.”

Staff at the restaurant had ignored basic food safety techniques that anyone would use in their home kitchen, she said. They included one member of staff coughing into his hand and then continuing to work with dough, dirty surfaces, failing to keep hot food hot and chilled food cold enough.

Council officers first warned Fuccio about the poor hygiene in 2008 and in 2009 he was cautioned for failure to have a food safety management system in place. But the hygiene breaches continued. In August 2011, he was served with an improvement notice, which he didn’t comply with and the poor hygiene continued.

Fuccio told magistrates: “I have lost my family, I have no job, no business, no family, I have nothing left.” He said publicity after an earlier court appearance in the case had “killed the business”. He and the staff had “tried their best”. He declined to comment as he left court.