Raw sewage and rodents account for record food-safety closures

More restaurants closed or sanctioned by watchdog than any time in last 20 years

The presence of rodents and other pests presents a grave and immediate danger to consumers’ health, said the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. Photograph: iStock

The presence of rodents and other pests presents a grave and immediate danger to consumers’ health, said the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. Photograph: iStock

 

More restaurants were closed or sanctioned by Ireland’s food safety watchdog last month than at any time since it began policing the sector more than 20 years ago.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) issued 21 closure orders and two prohibition orders in November.

These were for a number of offences, including evidence of rats in kitchens; raw sewage on floors; dead mice left in traps; pigeon faeces on wash basins in food packing areas and live rodents running around food storage and equipment washing areas.

Food inspectors sanctioned restaurants over the presence of cobwebs, spiders and insects and high levels of E.coli and coliforms in drinking water and ice samples taken from a premises.

Inspectors detected raw sewage on the floor of a customer toilet in the basement of the Apache Pizza restaurant on Dublin’s Dame Street and noted a live rodent running towards a food area in the same establishment.

Raw chicken and raw chicken juices were said to be contaminating pre- cooked food at Tikka Asian Street Food on South Quay, Wicklow.

There were high levels of E.coli and coliforms found in drinking water and ice samples at the Blackchurch Inn on the Naas Road in Rathcoole, Co Dublin.

The Kitchen on Emmet Street, Trim, Co Meath, was closed after “fresh rodent faeces” was discoverered in kitchens and storage areas., while New Century Chinese takeaway in Riverstown, Dundalk, Co Louth, was closed due to evidence of rodent activity in the kitchens.

The Westmanstown Sports Centre in Dublin – home to the Garda recreation club – was closed after rodent activity, including a dead mouse left in a trap, was seen.

There was also rodent activity recorded at the Blue Anchor, Bellurgan Point in Dundalk, Co Louth, and at Sajna Exclusive Dining on Bishop Street in Cobh, Co Cork.

Evidence of pigeon faeces on a sink was among the reasons listed for the closure of Vernon Catering on Sheriff Street, Dublin 1.

The Malik Tandoori Restaurant on Pearse Road, Sligo, was closed because the “standard of cleaning was very poor”. The floors, walls and drainage pipes beneath and behind the kitchen sinks and units were dirty and in need of deep cleaning. There were cobwebs, spiders and insects throughout the kitchen.

The gent’s toilets had mould growth noted on the walls and ceilings and water was dripping from the ceiling, resulting in ponding on the floor.

Pest bait box lying upside down

The Paragon Bar on Skibbereen’s Main Street, Co Cork, was “not kept clean or in good repair” and there was “no effective cleaning programme,” the report says.

Inspectors also found a pest bait box lying upside down on the third shelf of the stainless steel shelves in the lobby to the walk-in cold room. “Loose blue grain bait was spilling out of [the] box. Wrapped carrots and an open box of loose onions were stored below. There was a risk of rodent bait contaminating food.”

Tony’s Bistro on North Main Street in Cork was closed after inspectors noted “an excessive build up of dirt and food residue on wall and floor surfaces”. The report stated it was “particularly evident behind and beneath cooking equipment, beneath fridges, work benches and sinks” and grease was “running down the walls behind the cooking equipment and had built up on the floor beneath”.

Authority chief executive Dr Pamela Byrne condemned the record number of food businesses issued with enforcement orders in one month who have failed to ensure their premises operate to the highest food-safety standards as we enter the busiest month of the year.

“November had the highest amount of enforcement orders in the one calendar month which the FSAI has seen since the legislation was introduced in 1998,” she said.

She added that 23 enforcement orders over a one-month period was “totally unacceptable” and said the presence of rodents and other pests presents a grave and immediate danger to consumers’ health and food businesses must put in place more robust pest control systems.

She said “totally inadequate hygiene standards” were damaging the reputation of the food industry as we enter one of the busiest months of the year”.