THREE Sheffield food outlets have been closed down in just a week – after they were found to be infested with rodents.
Wardey’s takeaway on Glossop Road and Mediterranean restaurant Palmyra on Wicker, both in the city centre, and Red Sea Continental Food Store, Burngreave, have been given emergency closure orders after environmental health officers found evidence of mice and rats.
At Wardey’s, a rat ran across the floor when officers visited following a tip-off from a member of the public. Droppings were found in a customer area and kitchen.
At Palmyra, mouse droppings were found when inspectors visited, while rats were found at Red Sea Continental two days later.
Watchdogs closed all three businesses as they believed they posed an imminent risk to the public.
And hygiene experts say strict controls are more important than ever, as cold weather forces vermin indoors looking for shelter.
A Sheffield Council spokesman said: “These situations are not common, but we are experiencing a particularly cold period and rodents will no doubt be looking for warm places to harbour.
“It is important food businesses undertake routine checks to monitor for signs of pest activity, such as gnawing and droppings, and check there are no entry points that will allow rodents to get in.
“Food premises should be kept clean and equipment pulled out regularly to prevent dirt and debris accumulating that will provide a food source to pests such as rats, mice and cockroaches.”
Red Sea Continental, Wardey’s and Palmyra were brought before Sheffield Magistrates’ Court, where the emergency orders were confirmed by a judge.
Photographs showing the hygiene failures at each venue was handed to the court.
Dorothy Laycock, a council environmental health officer, said: “I visited Palmyra. There were mouse droppings in the storage area, on the floor and on food preparation surfaces.”
Mohammed Salih, Palmyra manager, told the court: “I thought the droppings might have been chopped spices, I didn’t not know what it was.”
Neil Craig, the council officer who inspected Wardey’s, said: “The live rat in the premises suggested widespread infestation.”
Sheffield city centre residents’ action group campaigners believe food outlets need to be more responsible to stop the problem escalating.
Christine Sephton, a SCCRAG member, said: “The group has lobbied for some time for businesses to take more responsibility for cleanliness. Quite often there will be bins overflowing or pizza boxes left on the streets. That’s going to encourage rats and mice.”