Discount store pays the price for uncontrolled mouse infestation

Published: Thursday 31st August 17

Discount retail giant Poundland is counting the cost of ignoring a major mouse infestation at its flagship Wandsworth store after being hit by magistrates with what is believed to be one of the country’s heaviest ever retail food safety fines.

The company has been fined £100,000 after a court was told its branch in the Southside shopping centre had to closed using emergency powers in January last year after food safety inspectors uncovered evidence of a widespread and uncontrolled mouse infestation throughout the store.

Mouse droppings and evidence of urine were found on food shelves alongside gnawed and soiled packets of biscuits, nuts, sweets and popcorn. Droppings were found throughout the store and its behind-the-scenes storage areas including on baby clothes.

Community safety spokesman Cllr Jonathan cook said: “This was a very serious rodent infestation in a busy and popular retailer so there was a very real and significant risk to public health.

“When our inspectors uncovered the scale of the problem they had absolutely no option other than use their emergency powers to order the entire store’s immediate closure. It was not permitted to reopen until the company was able to prove it had dealt with the problems and taken adequate steps to prevent it happening again

“This episode showed a complete lack of regard for customer’s health and welfare and is reflected in the very substantial fine imposed on the company by the court.

“Food retail businesses must ensure that they do not jeopardise public health in any way if they don’t want to suffer a similar fate.”

Wimbledon magistrates court heard that the company Poundland Limited had been previously prosecuted on three occasions for similar outbreaks at other stories including a £73,000 fine at Birmingham crown court, a £12,000 fine at Highbury Corner magistrates’ court and a £33,000 fine at Luton magistrates’ court.

In this case Poundland Limited pleaded guilty to four offences. In addition to the £100,000 fine the company was also ordered to pay £12,368 towards Wandsworth Council’s costs in bringing the case to court.

Anyone with concerns about food safety issues at a shop or restaurant in Wandsworth can contact the council’s food safety team by emailing foodsafety@wandsworth.gov.uk.

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Recent comments

I reported the infestation, 13th January last year to a Councillor, having found the stockroom and shop seriously dirty and foul smelling, whilst carrying out a stocktake. Not only is this appalling for customers but a breach of Health and Safety Regulations for employees of both Poundland and the company employed to carry out the stocktaking. Both should have carried out a safety check before commencement of work. I found similar conditions in their other branches throughout London. Despite drawing this situation to those responsible, it was ignored! My recommendation is for the Council inspectors to make frequent visits without warnings.
Tilstock

1 September 2017