Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Mice droppings found in food shop

The council said evidence of a rodent infestation was found at the store

Mice droppings and bread for sale which had been gnawed by rodents were found at a shop in west Belfast, food safety inspectors have confirmed.

The Iceland store, in the Park Centre complex, has been fined £400 plus £66 costs after the discovery was made by Belfast City Council staff.

In a statement, Iceland Foods Limited claimed it "was not charged for or fined for any pest-related issues".

The council said it had been fined and charged for "food safety offences".

Serious breaches'

A spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said: "Iceland Foods Ltd was charged with two offences under the Food Hygiene Regulations (NI) 2006.

Officers observed mouse droppings on and under shelving, and bread which was displayed for sale had been gnawed by mice.
Belfast City Council statement

"The first was for failing to keep their premises clean and maintained in good repair.

"The second was for failing to have good food hygiene practices, including protection against contamination and in particular pest control. "

Belfast City Council brought the prosecution after it investigated a complaint made by a customer last year, who alleged they had seen mice in the store on Donegall Road.

The council said it carried out an inspection of the premises on 19 September, 2008 which uncovered "a number of serious breaches of food hygiene legislation".

"Officers observed mouse droppings on and under shelving, and bread which was displayed for sale had been gnawed by mice," the council said.

It added that "poor standards of cleaning were also observed".

Stephen Leonard, who is a senior environmental health inspector with Belfast City Council, told BBC Radio Ulster: "We obviously found evidence of a pest infestation as a result of a visit being made to the premises.

"A voluntary closure was agreed with the premises at that time and the premises was brought up to standard before it could begin to trade again with members of the public."

Mr Leonard added that conditions of the nature discovered in the inspection were "only found in a small percentage of premises" and where such breaches were found, the council would "act to protect public health".

'Deep clean'

The company said it had "pleaded guilty to two minor offences relating to cleanliness issues which were discovered by Belfast Council in Sept 2008".

Iceland Foods Limited added that Belfast Magistrates Court had imposed a fine, but said the court had declined to accept the "full costs sought by the council".

"The company was not charged for or fined for any pest-related issues although it is known that the council is experiencing problems in the Park Centre," the firm's statement said.

Belfast City Council said that the store had been voluntarily closed "to allow staff to do a deep clean" and to pest-proof the premises.

It said its "standard costs" of £66 had been applied for and granted by the court.

At Tuesday's hearing, the council confirmed to the court that conditions at the store "have subsequently improved to their satisfaction".

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