A FISH and chip shop owner has been fined thousands of pounds after rat droppings were found scattered across the floor.

Council inspectors uncovered rat and mice droppings, flies and dirty equipment at seafront chippy The West Pier Traditional Fish and Chips in King’s Road, Brighton.

Owner Samir Gad Salama was fined £5,000 after admitting several food hygiene breaches at Brighton Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

Magistrate Barbara Dart said the chippy “potentially posed a serious health risk”.

Inspectors started their investigation of the restaurant and takeaway, next to the Hilton Brighton Metropole, after a customer complained about cold food and dirty tables.

The court heard when food safety officer Joanne Burchell-Collins visited the chippy in September 2017 she noticed a bad smell in the basement where she found rat droppings and fly pupae on the floor.

Len Batten, prosecuting on behalf of Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “Whilst down there Mrs Burchell-Collins saw rat droppings and she picked up some from behind a bin.

“The dropping was soft and fresh, and beside it tissue looked chewed.”

The ground floor where food was prepared and diners ate was not any better. The food safety officer found lumps of congealed matter in the sink plughole and a thick build up of ice, dirt and food particles in the chest freezer.

A bench-mounted tin opener was filthy, encrusted with grease and dirt.

Cod in the hot cabinet was found to be cold and containers of sour cream chive dip were found to have been past their expiry date.

An open sack of batter mix was also found on the floor.

An employee informed Mrs Burchell-Collins there were no records of cleaning or training for the restaurant, where employees used a spray bottle of washing up liquid and water to clean.

The court heard there was no suitable disinfectant or antibacterial spray to be found in the restaurant.

Tables where diners ate were also greasy and dirty.

When the food safety officer visited the chippy the next day a deep clean had been done, and a bottle of Flash spray had appeared, but Salama was unaware the spray had to be left on surfaces for three minutes to kill germs.

Inspectors visited the chippy again in October after a customer saw a rat running out of the kitchen.

Salama had poured salt over the floor as he had read on the internet it would dehydrate the vermin.

Jon Payne, defending, said the risk posed to customers was limited because “the food is fried and temperature will kill the bacteria”.

He said: “Quite clearly something went wrong in the cleaning schedule. I’m happy to say the issues are resolved and there was inspection just last week at the premises.”

Salama pleaded guilty to ten charges of breaching food hygiene laws.

Chairwoman of the bench Ms Dart fined Salama £5,000.

Sentencing she said: “You have pleaded guilty to ten serious breaches of food hygiene. Although there were no reported cases of food poisoning there was potential for a serious health risk.”

He was also made to pay £3,264 in costs and £170 victim surcharge.

The restaurant owned by the Egyptian since 2006, currently has a food hygiene rating of zero meaning urgent improvement was necessary.

Speaking to The Argus after the hearing Salama said: “Customers should not be worried. We have been trading in this business for more than a decade and we have never had one problem.”