THE OWNER of a takeaway that was twice rated 0 out of 5 stars for its hygiene has been allowed to continue working in the food trade.

Environment health inspectors found a filthy working area and tools and flies throughout the kitchen of Oriental Master Chef in Heslington Road, said Victoria Waudby, prosecuting.

Ready to eat food was exposed to contamination from raw food and there was a lack of basic cleaning and disinfection procedures, including staff wiping their hands on their aprons instead of cleaning them properly, York Magistrates heard.

Sole trader Sau Man Lee, 54, of Heslington Road, York, did not know what allergens were in the foods he prepared and didn’t understand the importance of cleanliness and food hygiene rules, said Mrs Waudby.

The takeaway never got a rating higher than one out of five in three inspectors' visits between June 2018 and January 2019 and had failed to fully carry out two hygiene improvement notices.

“There has never been good hygiene,” said Mrs Waudby, on behalf of City of York Council. “There have been repeated failures to comply with the legislation.”

She asked York magistrates to make a hygiene prevention order banning Lee from working in the catering industry for a period of time.

But magistrates declined after seeing photos produced by the defence showing a clean kitchen.

“It is obvious you have made a bid to clean the place up,” they told Lee.

But they warned him: “If you are brought back to court for food hygiene offences again, we suspect another bench will take a very different view.”

Lee, of Heslington Road, York, pleaded guilty to four food hygiene offences. He was fined £961 and ordered to pay a £96 court surcharge and £2,500 costs.

For him, Riyaz Shaikh said: “It is effectively a case of burying his head in the sand. It has been a very salutary experience for him. He has been devastated.”

The 0 rating had meant Lee's business had “effectively come to a halt” and had debts of £25,000.

Lee now knows what his responsibilities are, said the defence lawyer.

After the hearing, Cllr Denise Craghill, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods, said: “York is home to a variety of food establishments and we will continue to ensure that standards are met and customers are confident in the quality of the food they are being served.

“Local food premises have the opportunity to seek advice from our environmental health officers on food hygiene and safety requirements, which if not complied with, can lead to legal action. We welcome customers reporting concerns to”

Visit: for more information on food hygiene ratings for restaurants, bars and takeaways in the city.