Food hygiene ratings: Rats, mice and cockroaches found in 13 Islington restaurants last year

A file image of a cockroach. Picture: Derek Markham/Flickr/Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

A file image of a cockroach. Picture: Derek Markham/Flickr/Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 - Credit: Derek Markham/Flickr/Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

Rats, mice and cockroaches plagued 13 Islington restaurants last year, according to council papers.

Results from a Freedom of Information request have uncovered the reasons for 23 restaurants’ zero star hygiene ratings. They were given these scores after inspectors from Islington Council’s environmental health offices visited them in 2016, although some have since been updated.

The inspectors were working on behalf of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and employed its star ratings system, awarding a maximum of five to the cleanest eateries. This is based on the condition of the premises – which includes its cleanliness, layout, lighting and ventilation – and the way the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe.

Abi’s Pizza & Fried Chicken in Seven Sisters Road, was one of those with evidence of “pest activity”: mouse droppings were found “throughout”. But following a re-inspection in April the grade was upgraded to two stars,

“We’ve got new owners now and it’s been cleaned up since,” said supervisor Imran Khan. “The first thing we did was call a pest controller who helped us block all the holes and we haven’t seen any mice since. We’ve also got more hand wash and basins, and all our staff have been given lessons in food hygiene.”

Of the 12 other restaurants found to have pest infestations, six were temporarily closed by the council.

They included Kipferi Ltd, which a council report dated September 14, 2016, said had “uncontrolled mice activity, which [...] presented an imminent risk to public health”.

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Kipferl’s director Christian Malnig now believes the situation is “totally fine” and is hoping for the restaurant to be reassessed soon.

“We had an issue in our yard,” he said. “It’s an old building away from the guest area where we do intermediate storage of our waste before we take it out in the evenings.

“We had mice in the storage area as well, but they didn’t come into the restaurant. It was closed for one day to do a deep clean and maintenance. We tidied up the areas where they [the mice] could have access to, to close it off.

“Secondly, we changed our pest control supplier. Our prior pest control supplier was a bit lax. We’ve been revisited a couple of times by the council who’ve been very happy.

“The health and safety of our guests and our staff was never at risk.”

The others to have briefly closed were N1 Grill, OA Com Tam (since upgraded to three stars), Sushi Show (since upgraded to three stars), Eroma Café (since upgraded to one star) and Beijing Aroma. Rats were found by inspectors in N1 Grill in August, but a staff member claiming he was the manager, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the restaurant has had no issues with vermin since changing hands.

“Whatever happened last year was to do with the previous owners,” he said. “We’ve got pest control checking up [on the restaurant] every month, so as far as we know there are no rats or anything [else] on the premises.

“We’ve spoken to the inspector who dealt with this last year and asked him to visit us to change the rating. We’re just waiting for him to come and do the random visit.”

Indian Veg House in Chapel Market was forced to close for five weeks and taken to court by the council for an emergency prohibition order following the discovery of cockroaches in the restaurant. Owner Nures Safa blamed the pest control company he’d employed for the infestation.

“We’ve got new pest control people,” he said. “The last ones said in a report everything was fine – they were so negligent. I employed this pest control company for the last 30 years [and] they were supposed to do the job, not me.

“We spent £100,000 to refurbish; I’ve got new furniture, flooring, fridges, toilets and decorations and thrown all our old equipment out.”