'It nearly ruined me' - Chinese takeaway fights back from zero food hygiene rating
PUBLISHED: 11:51 27 August 2019 | UPDATED: 13:54 27 August 2019
The owner of a Chinese takeaway has revealed how an unexpected bout of depression led to a damning zero food hygiene rating which nearly cost him everything.
Earlier this year Capital Chinese Takeaway, in Westwood Avenue, Lowestoft, was slapped with a zero food hygiene rating by East Suffolk Council.
The report criticised staff for not knowing "the difference between clean and dirty" and found mouse droppings in the outside storage room.
Owner James Woo said the rating served as a wake-up call for him and following a surprise inspection last week the takeaway earned its highest ever rating - a perfect five.
"They always said it would be quite difficult to get a five rating because of the age of the property", explained Mr Woo.
"Four was what we expected but to get but to get a five is amazing - I'm totally elated."
Mr Woo estimates his business has been cut by half due to the rating and thanked the customers who have stuck with him during his darkest hour.
He added: "The customers who stayed loyal to us, their friends were telling them they were stupid to go here - that was quite painful.
"I've lost so much and if it was not for them I would have shut down."
While Mr Woo does not dispute the findings of the first inspection he said it does not tell a full story of the events surrounding the visit.
At the time the owner was suffering from a bout of depression brought on by seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
When the inspector appeared the takeaway had been closed for two weeks while Mr Woo battled with the disorder.
He explained the dirty utensils found were not being used to prepare food, rather they had simply been left over from the last time the business was open.
Likewise the mice had found their way into the external storage space while the takeaway was unoccupied.
When the inspector arrived Mr Woo said he was not as helpful as he could have been due to his state of mind.
"I just had a feeling I was being made a fool of but it was my own mental state, my depression got the best of me", he added.
"There are a lot of lessons to be learnt here which I really appreciate. Hopefully people are forgiving and realise we never jeopardised food safety."