Grim images show cockroaches and mouse droppings at Indian takeaway forced to close

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Grim images show mouse droppings and cockroaches that were found in a filthy Merseyside takeaway.

Saffron Indian Takeaway, based on Borough Road in Birkenhead, was forced to close after Wirral Council’s Environmental Health team visited on February 2 for a routine hygiene inspection and found evidence of pests there.

On February 8, Wirral Magistrates Court granted Wirral Council’s request for an emergency order to keep the takeaway closed, though this will be under review by the local authority. The business is currently not trading.

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The court also ordered Saffron to pay £2,204.64 to the council in legal and environmental health costs.

Ali Bayatti, a solicitor for Wirral Council, told the court that there was a history of pest infestation and evidence of cockroaches and mice were found at the premises in September 2022.

During the inspection on February 2, an adult cockroach was found in a trap in the takeaway’s food preparation room and another was found in a trap above a fridge. Cockroaches of different ages were also found in traps elsewhere.

Signs of mouse activity were found with droppings in the customer waiting area and other parts of the takeaway as well as a build up of grease on the ceiling. Mouse droppings and a cockroach egg casing was also found in the staff toilets.

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On February 2, Mr Bayatti said officers were told “mice had always been an issue at the premises.” Mr Bayatti said Mohammed Ali Hamza who was managing the business at the time, told inspectors he “was not aware of any recent activity.”

Mr Bayatti added some improvements had been made since the February 2 inspection but this was not sufficient.

Mouse droppings under kitchen shelves Mouse droppings and gnawed materials under shelving in the kitchenMouse droppings under kitchen shelves Mouse droppings and gnawed materials under shelving in the kitchen
Mouse droppings under kitchen shelves Mouse droppings and gnawed materials under shelving in the kitchen | LDR

At an inspection on February 6, the takeaway was found to have cleaned the ceiling of the building and repainted it and had cleaned up the mouse droppings – with no signs of pest droppings at that time.

Regarding the costs, Mr Hamza, father of Saffron owner Shirzul Islam Azmol Hussain and speaking on behalf of the business in court, said: “If you say we need to pay that, we cannot pay that.”

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He said this was due to rising energy and inflation costs the business was dealing with and insisted the business is doing all they can to eradicate pests.

Cllr Helen Cameron, Chair of the Tourism, Communities, Culture & Leisure Committee for Wirral Council said: “I hope this action serves as a reminder to all businesses that prepare and serve food to Wirral’s residents and visitors that the highest possible standards of safety, hygiene and management are demanded – and when those standards become unacceptable, action will be taken.

Mouse droppings at the back of the fridgeMouse droppings at the back of the fridge
Mouse droppings at the back of the fridge | LDR

“It should also provide reassurance to customers that inspections of all food premises are carried out by suitably qualified and experienced environmental health officers; they are not just a ‘tick-box’ exercise.

“Enforcement action is a last resort – officers will usually give advice and a chance for proprietors to put things right before taking action.

“However, when serious issues persist and owners are not able or willing to address them properly, they can – and will – be prohibited from operating and serving food in order to protect the public.”

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