October 22 2014 Latest news:
by Tom Marshall
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Mouse droppings, moggies and out-of-date hummus were some of the reasons why dozens of restaurants, cafés and supermarkets were given the lowest possible rating for food hygiene over the past year, it can be revealed.
Environmental health officers ordered 31 establishments to make urgent improvements after rating them zero – on a scale up to five – following inspections carried out in the 12 months to October.
And the Gazette has learned the reasons why after obtaining full inspection reports under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act. The investigation follows recent high-profile prosecutions against the likes of health food giant Holland & Barrett.
The bundle of documents runs to 119 pages and makes sobering reading. Time and again inspectors found evidence of mouse droppings, such as at Lakorn Thai, in Rosebery Avenue, Finsbury, where there was “an uncontrolled mouse infestation in the main kitchen”. The manager voluntarily closed the premises after the visit in July and it is now compliant with food hygiene standards, says the report.
Two premises were rapped for keeping pet cats around food, including Park Café, in Aubert Park, Highbury, which has since ceased trading and Mother Earth, in St Paul’s Road, Canonbury, which was issued an official notice after a visit in May when the inspector wrote: “I clearly detected the odour of cat’s urine on the sales floor... it was increasingly pungent as I entered the basement storeroom... the contamination of food packaging and food contact surfaces (from cat’s urine or otherwise) is plausible.” The premises now comply with hygiene regulations.
The various inspectors’ reports showed that several shops were found with out-of-date products, including pots of hummus, taramasalata and guacamole at Costcutter, in Junction Road, Archway, that were about a week past their use-by dates.
After visiting Victory Foods, in Nag’s Head Market, Holloway, which was issued a notice and is now compliant, one inspector wrote: “You had been storing a high-risk cooked ready-to-eat food (hot-smoked mackerel) at room temperature for two days and argued that you thought it would be safe to eat even after a week at room temperature.”
In September Holland & Barrett, in Upper Street, Islington, was fined £30,000 after rodent droppings were found and kebab shop Crystal Restaurant, in Holloway Road, Holloway, was billed more than £10,000 and banned from running a food business for two years after admitting 18 food hygiene offences.
The council took legal