Closing system

Press Up outlet closed by rodent problem and ‘unclean food’ issue closes Allta’s supply kitchen

A rodent infestation in a kitchen and serious breaches of food hygiene regulations have resulted in the notification of closure orders to two major restaurant brands.

Press Up Eats, a takeaway and dine-in restaurant in Cork City; and a food preparation kitchen used by Allta, which currently operates Allta Winter House in Trinity Street car park in Dublin 2, were among seven premises subject to closure orders last month, for breaching the food safety legislation.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said on Tuesday an order had been served under the FSAI Act 1998 closing Press Up Eats, 4-5 South Main Street, Cork. “Mouse droppings were present in several places in the kitchen, including ‘behind and under service refrigerators, storage shelves and cooking equipment,’ the inspector noted. “Evidence of pest nesting and ‘heavy accumulations of mouse droppings were noted in a kitchen wall panel next to the sink.’

Press Up Eats is part of the Press Up Hospitality Group which owns and operates restaurants, hotels and bars in Dublin, Cork and Galway. The Press Up Eats establishments, in Temple Bar and Mount Merrion in Dublin, as well as in Cork, bring together several of the group’s food brands under one roof. The Cork City branch offers dine-in, pick-up and take-out from its Coo Coo Indian cuisine, Chinese rice cuisine and Double 8 dumpling menus.

A Press Up spokesperson said: “This was an isolated incident due to ongoing works in the building next door. It was a one off incident that had never happened before in any [Press Up] locals.” The restaurant has since reopened.

Oysters served at Allta Winter House. Photography: Al Higgins

A closure order has also been served under the European Union (Official Controls in relation to Food Law) Regulations 2020 on Allta at the Liffey Trust Centre, 117-126 Sheriff Street Upper, Dublin 1. The Allta Winter Restaurant House opened in November 2021, on the fifth floor of Trinity Street car park in Dublin 2, following its move from a summer residence at Slane Castle in County Meath. A spokesperson for the restaurant described the premises subject to the closure order as “a satellite space”.

The inspector’s report, based on the March 8 and February 24, 2022 inspections, presented evidence of non-compliance with legislation in four areas: unsafe food; food safety training and culture; hazard analysis and critical control points, and establishment registration and licensing.

Among the specific offenses listed, “food was stored for indefinite and excessively long periods of time (e.g. smoked butter produced on 10/19/21) without any documented or validated food preservation techniques being applied”. A vacuum packer was used for raw and cooked foods, “e.g. pork belly and cooked foods, e.g. miso butter…resulting in likely contamination of food with pathogenic bacteria rendering the food unsafe”.

Inadequate food safety

The report also noted issues with food safety protocols at the premises. “There was no evidence of an appropriate food safety culture within the food industry, or a commitment from management to safe food production.”

Other evidence of non-compliance included failure to submit required documentation. “There were no documented Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) based food safety management procedures or associated records available for inspection of activities such as smoking foods, cooking in a hot box, producing miso butter.”

With regard to the registration and approval of premises, the report states that “the establishment used by the food business operator has not been approved by the competent authority for the activities in progress, in particular the preparation and handling of food of animal origin. There was evidence of preparation and handling of food of animal origin, namely the processing and handling of raw unprocessed meat for supply to other establishments at the time of the inspections.

Chef and restaurateur Niall Davidson, who is named on Allta’s closure order at the Liffey Trust Centre, confirmed that food present at the time of inspections had been discarded and the premises were now closed.

A statement released on behalf of Davidson and Hugh Higgins of Table 21 Restaurants Ltd said: ‘The Liffey Trust kitchen had only been partially used this year and we were in the process of closing the space. Anyway it was working and we take full responsibility for lack of due diligence, inadequate staff training at this location for our team members, lack of a second vac pac machine, batch coding of our fermented products and product shelf life testing. like smoked butter.

“At our pop-up location at Trinity Car Park, we have been thoroughly inspected and are in full compliance with all environmental health procedures and requirements. We continue to work closely with our environmental health manager and the hygiene management system consultants to manage our restaurant to the highest possible standard and we thank the environmental health manager for highlighting these points to us and for helping us put practices in place to rectify any issues. ”