MPI investigating claims Dunedin Pizza Hut served expired chicken

Former Pizza Hut staff in Dunedin are blowing the whistle on alleged "disgusting" conditions and poor food hygiene practices in the city's two stores.

But Pizza Hut says investigators have found nothing to back up the shocking claims, which include engine oil leaking into dough, changing the use-by dates on expired chicken and seafood, using ingredients that had fallen on the floor and selling food that had previously been thrown into a rubbish skip.

Ex-employee Hayley Bevin sent Newshub photos she says show old dough being used to make pizzas and her boss drinking alcohol at work, mixing drinks under a desk.

"I've spoken to head office about these issues and nothing has been done yet," she wrote on Facebook. "Something needs to be seriously done about this. Someone's going to get very sick. So I beg you please do NOT buy any food from either of these shops."

Chicken which ex-employees say was expired, but had new use-by stickers put on.
Chicken which ex-employees say was expired, but had new use-by stickers put on. Photo credit: Hayley Bevin/supplied

She said the last straw was finding expired chocolate brownies she'd thrown out back in the fridge two days later, being sold to customers.

Nikita Lloyd quit her job at the Dunedin south Pizza Hut last week. She told Newshub she would have quit sooner if she could afford to.

"I was on closing one night and there was one-and-a-half bags of chicken wings to be thrown out or cooked by 11pm when we finished," she said. "I said that to the manager, he then called the boss about it and Naveen said to keep them for tomorrow. Same with the dough that needed burnt off to be thrown out, but they leave it to use for next morning, and so on."

"They definitely know they are in the wrong."

Franchise owner Naveen Malhotra declined to talk when Newshub rang. He told the Otago Daily Times the the staff members left over "roster problems".

A dough machine with what appears to be an oil leak.
A dough machine with what appears to be an oil leak. Photo credit: Hayley Bevin/supplied

Geraldine Oldham, general manager of marketing for Pizza Hut owner Restaurant Brands, said the former workers' claims were treated as a matter of urgency.

"After their visit to the store yesterday, the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) advised that there were no critical food safety risks or concerns identified.

"The issue regarding fraudulent 'use-by dates' was also followed-up, and no evidence of this was identified during the inspection."

MPI said no evidence of "critical food safety risks was found" during a store visit on Wednesday, but it is continuing to investigate.

"MPI encourages members of the public with concerns about food businesses to contact us or their local council directly about these," a spokesperson said. "This enables us to independently assess and follow up these concerns."

MPI said there were a "number of low-level cleaning and maintenance issues which need to be addressed".

Either way, Ms Lloyd said she wouldn't eat Pizza Hut again anytime soon.

"I don't want any of my friends or family going there and maybe getting sick. I just want that place sorted out - either closed until such time and they fix it and get their food safety under control, or until they find new owners or something."

She's now happily working at a Night 'n Day, but still has friends at Pizza Hut trying to find new work and "get out of that disgusting place".

Newshub.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz