A restaurant in London’s Chinatown was given a one-star rating after an inspector found a number of hygiene issues (Picture: Josh Layton/Metro.co.uk)
Mouse droppings were found by inspectors at a well-known Chinese restaurant where a diner with a ‘life threatening’ allergy was allegedly served a contaminated dish.
The Golden Phoenix in London’s Chinatown was found to have evidence of pest activity along with other hygiene breaches including food handlers wearing dirty clothes.
Inspectors also discovered ‘high risk’ foods, including fried chicken and duck, being stored at room temperature, according to a report by the City of Westminster’s public protection and licensing team.
Cleanliness was another area highlighted, with the document referring to issues including an ‘extremely greasy and dirty’ kitchen floor.
The inspection took place six months after a visit when the restaurant was given a zero-star food hygiene rating. Issues flagged on the earlier occasion included the allegation that a diner with a ‘severe and life-threatening’ nut allergy was served a contaminated dish.
The restaurant said yesterday that it had not received any complaint from the customer and had taken ‘appropriate steps’ to address the comments about cleanliness.
An inspector carried out the latest visit on October 25 last year, where the rating was increased to one star under the Food Standards Agency (FSA) hygiene rating scheme, meaning major improvement is necessary.
The report states: ‘During the inspection mice droppings were noted in the dry storage room on the floor.
Inspectors visited the Golden Phoenix restaurant in London’s Chinatown after a complaint by a customer (Picture: Josh Layton/Metro.co.uk)
‘Mice present a great risk to human health, especially to people whose health is already compromised.
‘It is well documented that they are reservoirs for zoonotic diseases (diseases that are passed from animals to humans).’
The environmental health officer also found ‘high risk foods’, including fried chicken and duck, being stored at room temperature in the kitchen.
The same surfaces were said to be being used for ‘preparing and handling raw and ready to eat/cooked foods’, creating a risk of cross-contamination.
Food handlers in the kitchen were wearing dirty over-clothing, according to the letter addressed to the restaurant’s owners.
Other issues with cleanliness included an ‘extremely greasy and dirty’ tile floor in the kitchen and dry storage room, the report states.
A chest freezer in a dim sum section and service fridges were found to be ‘not clean’ and to need ‘thorough’ cleaning to minimise any risk of contamination to food.
The restaurant was told to update its allergen folder so it covers all dishes sold on the premises (Picture: Josh Layton/Metro.co.uk)
The alleged contamination incident in April last year was said to have resulted in the diner having to attend A&E at St Thomas’s Hospital in Westminster. In October, the restaurant insisted its menus showed food allergen advice and ‘strenuous efforts’ had been made to raise standards after the first inspection of the premises at 37 and 38 Gerrard Street.
However information on allergens was again flagged in the latest report, which has been released by the council after a Freedom of Information Act request by Metro.co.uk.
The letter states: ‘During the inspection of your food premises, although you have some documentation relating to allergen in the premises, this needs to be reviewed. For example, a dish Vietnamese Spring Roll states to be free from fish allergen whereas in fact the dish contains fish.
‘As discussed with the manager, update your allergen folder to ensure it covers all the dishes sold in the premises. This will enable your staff to provide accurate allergen information to your customers.’
The letter was sent by the council on November 9 last year to Kam Fung Wong Ltd at Wardour Street in London.
The Golden Phoenix is a familiar sight on Gerrard Street in London’s bustling Chinatown (Picture: Josh Layton/Metro.co.uk)
In an email to Metro.co.uk, the restaurant’s management team said: ‘We were made aware on 20 April 2022 that a gentleman had reported to the Local Authority’s Environmental Health Department that he had attended the restaurant some ten days earlier after which he had suffered a serious reaction by reason of his nut allergy.
‘We have not received any direct communication from the gentleman, nor any other person on his behalf at any stage, whether prior to him contacting the environmental health department or subsequently. It was not suggested that the gentleman showed any symptoms whilst in our premises.
‘We undertook an investigation but as ten days had passed and no one had any recollection of the gentleman concerned, nor any conversation regarding food allergies, although we have been informed that the gentleman reports having advised one of our waiting staff of his food allergy and the seriousness of the same.
‘We have been advised that the gentleman ordered satay chicken, which is a product that contains traces of nut and is marked on our menu as such.
‘Being a restaurant situated in London’s Chinatown and serving traditional Chinese cuisine, English is not the first language of many of our staff and we are obviously concerned if the language difficulty led to some confusion.
‘We are readily aware of the importance of food allergy warnings and our chicken satay, which is traditionally made with nuts, carried the appropriate warning on our menus.’
The restaurant also maintained that it was judged to have a ‘good standard’ of pest control in accordance with the council’s recommendations.
The team added: ‘The inspection by Environmental Heath that followed led to a number of admonishments and recommendations, such that we are embarrassed with the comments regarding the standard of cleanliness which we consider unacceptable and have taken appropriate steps.
‘As with all restaurants in London, particularly in areas with historic buildings, it’s important to pay particular attention to pest control and we use Westminster City Council’s own pest control service and follow all their advice and recommendations.
‘On the last visit by Environmental Health we were advised that we were deemed to be maintaining a good standard.’
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The Golden Phoenix was inspected twice after a diner with a ‘life-threatening’ allergy was allegedly served a contaminated dish.