Cows’ feet and dead rats among reasons for temporary closures of food outlets

Food Safety Authority of Ireland records show HSE officers found cockroach infestations

Dead rats, bags of cows' skins and mould-covered mayonnaise were just some of the reasons for the temporary closure of restaurants and other food outlets this year, according to records released by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

The records, released under the Freedom of Information Act, also show environmental health officers ordered the temporary closure of premises because of filthy kitchens, rat and mouse droppings, and bizarrely, a wellington filled with cigarette ash.

The wellington was found on the premises of Giles Brothers Fish Shop in Phibsborough, Dublin, where an environmental health officer also found a radiator “covered in filthy cigarette ash”. He said the premises had a “history of non-compliance with food legislation”.

The order was lifted a few days later when the problems were remedied.

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Inspection

Five plastic bags of cows’ skins and a bag of cows’ feet were found during an inspection of Johnson Best Food take away in Summerhill, Dublin, in May. “The bags were not labelled and there was no traceability documentation available,” the environmental health officer wrote. A prohibition order was made, to ensure that the items were removed, and was lifted several days later.

The records show rat and mouse infestations were an ongoing problem during the year. Quinns pub on Drumcondra Road Lower, a popular haunt for GAA fans, was closed for two days in September after an environmental health officer found “a grave and immediate danger to food safety over a serious sewage and rodent problem at the premises”.

In his inspection report, the officer wrote: “A dead rat is evident on the floor of the cellar. No effort has been made to clean this up. Rat droppings are evident on the floor of the main cellar. This area is used to store many foodstuffs, ie, bottled drinks.”

He said it was obvious there were sewage problems and “raw sewage has overflowed from manholes and other drainage connections. Toilet paper is evident on some stock and on the floor at a number of locations . . . Large amounts of dried sewage waste is evident on the walls and underneath pipe work in the smaller cellar.” Flies were spotted in the back bar and the door seals on the bottle fridges in the middle bar were covered in thick mould.

The pub was put up for sale in September and according to the latest update on the website of the agents handling the sale, CBRE, it is now sale agreed.

A suspected food poisoning incident led to the temporary closure of part of Kilcoran Lodge in Cahir, Co Tipperary, in September.

The Health Service Executive environmental health officer reported that samples taken on September 2nd “as part of an investigation into a suspected food poisoning incident were found to contain significantly raised levels of E coli bacteria. The foods in which the bacteria were isolated were cooked vegetables and cooked mashed potatoes”. Cooked foods such as mashed potatoes and wrapped cooked ham were stored in black plastic containers that previously held raw chicken fillets. The closure order was lifted on September 9th.

Dead cockroaches

Another suspected food poisoning incident led to the temporary closure of Pagar Gardens, in Clonmel, in October. A sample of cooked, meat-based spring roll filling was found to contain “significantly raised levels of E coli bacteria”.

Live and dead cockroaches were also discovered in some food businesses during the year. In August, “an extensive infestation of cockroaches” was found at Akash restaurant in Blackrock, Co Dublin. “Many dead cockroach bodies were noted throughout the premises . . . A live cockroach was observed walking across the over-counter refrigeration unit.” The closure order was made on August 7th and lifted on August 22nd.

A closure order was served on the ground floor kitchen of the Red Parrot on Dublin’s Lower Dorset Street in April after containers of mayonnaise, ketchup and sauces in the fridge were found to be covered in “thick mould growth” and a piece of fruit “completely covered in green mould growth” was also found. The closure order was lifted four days later.

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times