Reading Quality Foods and Al-Muzammil Halal Meat (based within Reading Quality Foods), 73-75 Northumberland Avenue, were closed by the Council’s food and safety team on 7th November, using a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice.
Reading Magistrates confirmed on 18th November that the Council had made the correct decision to issue the notice and close both shops.
Following a tip off from a tradesman who reported seeing 10-15 rats running throughout the store, Council officers visited the premises and found an array of serious hygiene violations. This included a widespread rat infestation throughout the premises, a substantial hole in the floor that appeared to be as a result of rat damage and a cockroach infestation at the butchers.
Food was found on display at Reading Quality Foods that had been gnawed and damaged by rats and contaminated with rat faeces. Fresh droppings were found in boxes where food was displayed. Droppings were found across the premises on the floor, on shelves, on food products and under equipment including on freezer handles.
Live cockroaches were found at the butchers on the work surfaces and living in kitchen equipment. Cockroaches were also found within one of the freezers at Reading Quality Food.
General conditions of the premises were poor and staff facilities were found in a filthy condition with no hot water. The areas outside the store were littered with large amounts of food and general waste, with disused equipment containing items encrusted with food.
Pest control reports for the premises identified that there had been a significant problem for the majority of this year, preventative proofing works were not carried out as advised and that there had been a lack of cooperation from the store owners in resolving the problems.
Both the store and the butchers shop will be closely monitored by the Council and will remain closed until they can demonstrate that they can comply with food hygiene legislation.
Cllr Paul Gittings, Reading’s Lead Member for Consumer Services, said: “This case shows the Council’s commitment to protecting consumers from rogue shop owners. We take food violations very seriously and I want to thank both the member of the public for reporting the problem and our officers for their extensive work which has seen these stores closed.
“Whilst the vast majority of food outlets are responsible and meet the high standards of food safety, here is an example of offenders who did not appear to take those responsibilities seriously. There is no excuse for these kinds of breaches of basic food hygiene. This sends out a clear message that public safety remains a priority and poor standards will not to be tolerated.”