A town-centre branch of a national store chain has admitted five food safety offences and two breaches of health and safety at work regulations.
Croydon Crown Court was told, on Tuesday morning (23), that charges were brought against Poundworld after Croydon Council food safety officers received a complaint from a member of the public who reported that she had seen evidence of a rodent infestation on the shopfloor of the North End store.
On visiting the store, the officers discovered an out-of-control infestation. The shop was dirty and littered with mouse droppings; food on display was gnawed and there were rodent urine and faeces over packaging and products. Some products’ gnawed packaging had been “repaired” with adhesive tape and returned to the shop shelves for sale.
Officers consulted with the store management who agreed to immediately cease the sale of food.
The basement and storage areas were also found to be contaminated with mouse droppings, while some areas were in darkness with very poor visibility. The goods lift was found to be out of commission, leaving staff members having to manually carry goods up to the shopfloor. No risk assessment had been carried out for this activity.
Additionally, there was no hot water, inadequate heating and poor housekeeping, which resulted in stock being left in a haphazard and dangerous manner.
The case was adjourned for sentencing until September.
Andy Opie, the council’s director of safety, said: “It’s shocking that a large, well-established town-centre store can let matters of food safety and the well-being of its staff slip to such a degree.
“Such was the store management’s level of complacency toward these matters, the health of shoppers, from contaminated food, and of staff, by the Health & Safety Act offences, was put at risk.
“Thanks to the diligence of our food safety team, the rodent infestation has been eradicated and Poundworld has taken the necessary actions to put right the health and safety measures.”