Filthy mouse infested food store forced to close
Published: 23 November 2016
A food and grocers shop in Earlsfield was shut down by council inspectors after it was found to be riddled with mice.
The council took emergency legal action to close the Punjab Superstore in Garratt Lane after discovering a serious rodent infestation and filthy food preparation surfaces covered in mouse droppings and urine.
The inspectors judged that the shop posed an immediate risk to public health and ordered the owner to immediately close it. This emergency action was later endorsed in a hearing at Lavender Hill magistrates court.
During their visit the inspectors saw at least one mouse running around the store while around a quarter of foodstuffs on sale were contaminated by droppings.
Large amounts of stock still on display to customers had been gnawed and chewed, while some pre-packed items were so contaminated they dripped mouse urine when picked up.
Shelves and storage areas containing nuts, herbs, spices and pulses were filthy and covered in droppings, including the butcher section of the shop where fresh meat was stored and prepared.
As well as mice a serious pharaoh ant infestation was found posing an additional risk to customers’ health.
Documentary evidence was later discovered which revealed the owner was aware the premises had a rodent problem but nothing had been done to tackle the problem over the previous four months.
When later interviewed under caution about the state of the shop and the risk it posed to public health, the manager Dabeer Haque gave “no comment” responses to most of the questions he was asked.
As a result Punjab Superstore Ltd was prosecuted by the council for food safety and hygiene offences. After pleading guilty to four charges the company was fined a total of £16,000 and ordered to pay £2,525 towards the council’s costs.
The council’s consumer protection spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “Our food safety team took immediate action to close this shop because of the serious risk it posed to public health.
“What the inspectors were confronted with was simply unacceptable. The shop was filthy and absolutely covered in mouse droppings. It is difficult to think of anywhere more unsuitable to stock and sell food.
“Anyone who owns or runs a food business in Wandsworth should be under no illusions about the sanctions they will face if they do not observe the very highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene.
“In this case, the owner’s sloppy and unacceptable practices have proved a very costly lesson. Other food businesses in Wandsworth should take careful note.”
Anyone with concerns about hygiene and/or food safety issues at a shop or restaurant in Wandsworth should email email@example.com. For more information and to see the ratings achieved by food businesses in the borough visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/foodsafety,