Owners of a grocery store on Milton Street, Walsall have been prosecuted by Walsall Council and between them fined over £2,220 at the Black Country Magistrates Court for operating a food business from premises that were infested with mice.
Maganlal Kikabhai Patel and wife Laxmi Ben Maganlal of ‘Bangla Stores’ Palfrey appeared before Black Country Magistrates Court on 15 November and pleaded guilty to charges of failing to control pests and keep their premises clean from mouse droppings. The couple had previously received two closure orders from Walsall Environmental Health Officers in June 2015 and October 2017 for serious rodent infestations. Despite being shut down twice in two years the couple still failed to clean up their act and make the statutory improvements to protect Public Health.
Councillor Garry Perry, Portfolio Holder for Public Health at Walsall Council said: “Mice carry a range of bacteria that if passed to humans through their urine or droppings can cause serious illness. When businesses do not meet the required standards, robust action will be taken by our Environmental Heath team. We must prevent the spread of disease and protect public health.”
Evidence to support the prosecution was supplied by Walsall Council Environmental Health officers, who had visited the stores without warning in October 2017. The court heard that:
• Mice faeces were present on the floor and shelving at the rear of the shop behind storage and on table surfaces.
• Further droppings were found at the rear of the shop by the back door.
• Rodent excrement was found on the floor behind chest freezers at the back and centre of the shop.
• More droppings had also contaminated sweet boxes stored in cupboards and on shelving behind the shop counter.
The Black Country Court magistrate said that ‘food offences are very serious’ and the substantial fine reflected this. The court action was instigated by Walsall Council, and is the 3rd successful food hygiene prosecution this year. 2018 is also the year that the council prosecuted one food business owner twice for very serious breaches at his premises ‘Peri Peri One Call Blakenall’ and ‘Pizza Cottage.’ The owner has already served six months in prison and is now awaiting a second judgement in early December for his dangerous disregard for food hygiene laws.
Cllr Garry Perry, Portfolio Holder for Public protection at Walsall Council added: “We are pleased the court has supported this prosecution – resulting in a hefty fine for the store owners. These laws are there for a reason – to protect the public and cannot be ignored.”
“Residents are reminded that they should always check the Food Hygiene Ratings of the businesses from where they buy food. The highest rating is ‘5’ and I’m currently lobbying parliament to make it mandatory for food businesses to show their scores in their shop windows.”