Restaurant boss too sick for court

A FORMER city restaurateur facing charges after mouse droppings were found in his kitchen has failed to attend his court hearing – after contracting food poisoning.

Herman Rodrigues, 47, was due to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday to face the ten charges being brought against himself and the company Indi Foods Limited.

These relate to an inspection carried out by Edinburgh Council's environmental health officers in April 2006, on the Suruchi restaurant in Nicholson Street, which Rodrigues formerly owned.

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The case was adjourned until May 30 after Rodrigues was unable to attend the hearing. Lawyers for Rodrigues said later that he was currently in India and was so unwell with food poisoning that he could not travel.

The continued delays to the case led Sheriff Isabella McColl to comment: "I am surprised to notice that Mr Rodrigues has now managed to avoid setting foot in this building in relation to these charges for more than two years."

The charges against him allege that he failed to properly maintain the premises of Suruchi, failed to put in measures to control pests such as mice, and failed to properly train staff. Indi Foods has since ceased trading and the restaurant is under new management.

The charges state that at the time of the inspection the restaurant's kitchen and storage areas were not kept in a good state of repair, with officers claiming the dry store room and kitchen had accumulations of dirt, grease, food debris and mouse droppings. The inspection also raised charges that the kitchen's drainage facilities were inadequate, claiming a waste pipe servicing the wash hand basin in the kitchen was broken and causing foul water to accumulate on the kitchen floor.

The floors were allegedly poorly maintained, with dirt, grease and food debris found by inspectors, while there was flaking paint and plaster on the kitchen walls.

An ice machine used by the restaurant was said to be affected by mould and dirt, and there was an alleged failure to protect food against contamination.

The charges also claim that food kept in the dry store was not in pest proof containers.

Health inspectors further claimed there were no adequate procedures in place to catch pests, and staff were not given proper training in food hygiene matters.

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A spokesman for Suruchi said neither Indi Foods Ltd nor Rodrigues had anything to do the Capital's two Suruchi restaurants.

He added that inspections carried out since the new owners took over have raised no concerns.

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