A Srilankan restaurant has been fined more than £8,000 for hygiene failings after more than 200 guests fell ill at a party.
Environmental health officers began investigating Spiceland, in London Road, Broad Green, after they were contacted by the organisers of the coming-of-age ceremony in December 2014.
Croydon Council learned food at the event had been cooked and delivered by the Sri Lankan restaurant, which had been inspected a month earlier and found to be at the highest risk rating.
Sivapathasundaram Premanthan, director and owner of Spiceland, said it had never been proven his food caused guests to fall ill.
But officers visited the restaurant again a few days after the party and noted the kitchen walls, floor and ceiling were filthy and damaged, failing to meet the standards required of a food business.
Inspectors also found:
They tested swabs of 10 food samples and surfaces and six were found to be “unsatisfactory”, meaning procedures were inadequate and food was being prepared in an unsafe manner, and slapped Spiceland with two hygiene improvement notices.
Inspectors who returned in January 2015 found failings persisted despite some effort to repair and clean the premises.
Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice, said: “This restaurateur, despite a number of warnings from our food safety officers, failed to ensure that right and proper hygiene standards were in place.
“Now he’s paid the price in the eyes of the law.”
After admitting 10 hygiene offences at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on January 12, Premanthan said: “The kitchen was not neat and I have apologised.
"But they said 200 people were ill and it did not come from our food. The food was tested and they can’t prove it.
"They are killing my business.”
Patrick Ratnaraja, a regular Spiceland customer and director of the Tamil Business Forum, defended the restaurant and said he would continue to eat there.
He said: "I have been going to Spiceland almost every week for more than 10 years and have never had any issues with their authentic Tamil food."