Two Waltham Forest food businesses found themselves in hot water after council food safety officers found serious breaches of hygiene regulations in late December 2018.
On Monday 17 December disgusted inspectors seized approximately 170kg of rotten, putrid meat from 777 Grocers, 295 High Road, Leyton, which had gone off after a freezer breakdown. The rancid meat was being offered for sale to unsuspecting customers. When officers opened the packaging they were hit with a strong stench of putrefaction. The food was seized and on Thursday 20 December Thames Magistrates’ Court ordered that it be condemned and destroyed so it posed no danger to health, and awarded costs of £1780.00 to the council.
On the following day, Tuesday 18 December, food safety officers served an Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order (HEPO) to Singburi Thai Restaurant, 593 High Road, Leytonstone, after an inspection uncovered a serious mouse infestation in the kitchen. Dead mice were found festering in the food preparation and storage areas, and catering supplies had been gnawed by hungry rodents. Sous vide dishes – where food is slow cooked at a lower temperature than usual – were being prepared mere feet from mouse faeces and corpses, which could have posed a serious risk to the health of diners. Thames Magistrates’ Court confirmed the closure on Thursday 20 December and awarded the council costs of £864.00.
Cllr Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “Over Christmas and New Year, many people will have enjoyed celebrating the season with friends, family and loved ones. Imagine how much your holiday would have been ruined with a serious case of food poisoning, as that is what may have awaited customers of these businesses had officers not taken action.
“It’s almost unbelievable that we still have cases where a business serving food has a pest infestation in its kitchens, or where rotten meat is offered for sale. It should be obvious that this is totally unacceptable. When we find dangerous, unclean premises we will press for the maximum penalties, and we will make sure we name and shame the culprits so that shoppers can make an informed decision about where it is safe to buy and eat food.”
The cases round off a successful year for the borough’s environmental health team, who served HEPOs on 21 food businesses for breaches of food safety regulations in 2018.
Food businesses that are served with closure orders must make improvements before they are re-inspected, and can only reopen if inspectors consider the risk to customers’ health has been minimised. Diners can check a restaurant before eating by checking the Food Standard Agency’s online hygiene rating tool, or asking the business owner to see their green star hygiene rating.
The council’s servicestore trading arm can provide businesses and residents in the borough with services including pest control at competitive rates.