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£15k Bill for Rat Infestation at Pizza Restaurant

Written by on 15 October 2019

The former operator of a takeaway pizza restaurant infested with rats has been prosecuted by Swale Borough Council.

Council officers visited Papa John’s pizza restaurant in West Street, Sittingbourne in February 2019 and found evidence of rats in the rear office/store room, food preparation area, front service area and upstairs in the premises.

The officers found there were inadequate procedures in place to controls pests at the premises, the structure of the building needed repairing to prevent pests entering the premises, and the cleaning materials used were unsuitable to properly disinfect the areas.

The restaurant was closed with immediate effect due to the imminent risk to public health of a live rat infestation.

Given the serious nature, the council chose to prosecute the company who operated the franchise Chatha Sittingbourne Ltd and the named food business operator, Mr Darbara Singh Chatha for five breaches of food safety law.

On Friday, 11 October, at Medway Magistrates Court, Chatha Sittingbourne Limited was fined £2,400 per offence – a total of £12,000 – with costs awarded of £350 to the council and a £170 victim surcharge. 

Darbara Singh Chatha was also fined £400 per offence – a total of £2,000 with £350 costs awarded to the council and a £170 victim surcharge.

Cllr Tim Valentine, cabinet member for environment at the council, said:

“This result shows the seriousness of the offences, and I am glad the courts have sent a strong signal that it is unacceptable to put the health of the public at risk. If you are running a food business you have a responsibility to make sure you are doing it safely and not putting people’s health at risk. Our officers are more than happy to offer help and guidance to make sure things are well managed but will also take the strongest action if necessary.”

The restaurant has reopened after necessary repairs were made and is run by a new owner.

To find out more about the council’s food safety work, visit