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Prawn of the dead

A food business in an industrial unit in Leyton was closed last week by Waltham Forest Council’s Environmental Health Team after an inspection revealed cooked catfish and prawns stored at inappropriate temperatures in a makeshift kitchen described as ‘absolutely filthy and squalid’.

The inspector who visited the premises on Roxwell Business Park, Argall Avenue on Wednesday 25 June was reacting to a complaint received about the aromas emanating from the unit that were described as smelling like a mixture of fish and vinegar.

After some time spent trying to gain entry to the unit, the inspector came across a scene that she described as ‘absolutely filthy and squalid’. Inside there was a makeshift kitchen with ovens on wooden pallets and no preparation surfaces or fridge. Some of the cooked prawns were mouldy and there was also an infestation of flies at the premises.

The inspector closed the premises immediately and went to Stratford Magistrates’ Court on Friday 27 June to obtain a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order.

“It’s astounding that people have such little regard for the health and wellbeing of the people who are going to consume their products,” said Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment.

“The inspector expressed her genuine concern that this business could very well end up killing someone. The business owner obviously had very little knowledge of food safety and even less consideration for who might be affected.”

In a bizarre twist, there was also evidence of someone living in the unit, with a mattress on pallets on the floor and clothes strewn around amongst cooking equipment. When the inspector originally tried to gain access she was prevented by a dishevelled looking woman using crutches who claimed to be the sister of the food business operator.

The Estate Manager has given the business owner one month’s notice to vacate the premises as she was not given permission to cook in the unit and the Council’s Safeguarding Team and Social Services are also involved in establishing whether the unit is being used for habitation.


  1. Mouldy prawns found at an industrial unit in Roxwell Business Park, Argall Avenue, Leyton.

  2. The makeshift kitchen consisting of ovens on wooden pallets.

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