Two half-filled black sacks containing a mix of rice and rodent faeces were found in a press near the dry food storage area in a hotel in Co Waterford, an inspection by the safety watchdog has found.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) issued Treacys Hotel, on Merchant's Quay in Waterford, with a closure order for its kitchen, upstairs ancillary storage areas and staff facilities as the "standard of cleanliness was unsatisfactory".
The order was issued on January 7th and later lifted on January 14th.
According to the FSAI, there was a build-up of dirt and food debris, including an old bread roll on the shelves adjacent to the walk-in freezer, while food debris and rodent droppings were observed under the shelves of the larger dry goods store.
Rodent droppings were also identified mixed with rice in black sacks, and on the floor adjacent to the staff facilities.
“The conditions observed pose a risk of food contamination due to the inability to adequately clean and to assess the presence of a pest infestation,” the authority said.
“Rodents can transmit harmful pathogens to foodstuffs and food packaging through their droppings and urine resulting in an unacceptable risk to public health.”
The enforcement order was one of six that the FSAI issued in January to food businesses.
Cafe India, in Tullamore, Co Offaly, was also issued with a closure order on January 12th as the "premises was not kept in a clean condition". The order was lifted on January 21st.
According to the FSAI, there was evidence that articles, fittings and equipment coming into contact with food were not effectively cleaned and disinfected.
Inspectors found dried food and dirt encrusted onto food storage containers and equipment in which food was stored, while shelves on which food and food preparation equipment is stored was encrusted with dirt and grease.
“The floor throughout the premises was greasy and dirty. Floor tile grouting in the kitchen was particularly dirty with dirt and food debris in-grained into the tile grouting,” the inspectors said.
“Ineffective and infrequent cleaning could pose a risk of contamination of foods prepared in the premises and the provision of a food source for pests in the premises and this is a risk to public health,” they said.
Dr Pamela Byrne, chief executive of the FSAI, warned that the legal onus is on food businesses to ensure they fully comply with food safety legislation at all times.
“It is unacceptable that we continue to find noncompliance with food safety legislation. Food business operators who do not fulfil their legal obligations to ensure food safety and hygiene are potentially putting their customer’s health at risk,” she said.
“Enforcement orders and most especially closure orders and prohibition orders are served on food businesses only when a serious risk to consumer health has been identified or where there are a number of ongoing serious breaches of food legislation. Enforcement orders are not served for minor breaches.”