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Mice with your special fried rice?

Fu Lam Chinese takeaway at 215 Forest Road, Walthamstow is shut on Mondays. Except for last week when it was shut on every other day too thanks to the intervention of Waltham Forest Council’s Environmental Health Officers after they discovered a significant vermin infestation.

They visited the premises last Tuesday (3 February) and were disgusted at what greeted them in the kitchen and storeroom. Mouse droppings were found on tins of food and in a cardboard box containing food packaging. The box was also soaked with mouse urine, as was the inside of a bag used to deliver food to customers.

There was evidence of the edges of the lino floor in the storerooms having been gnawed by mice and a large hole made by mice was also discovered in the storeroom. This was presumably how the mice had gained access. The inspector also found two cockroaches in the kitchen.

“It beggars belief that anyone operating a food business could allow mice and cockroaches in their kitchen,” said Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment.

“It never fails to amaze me how business owners can simply carry on regardless when there is an obvious need to address these sorts of issues. They are so blatantly putting the health of their customers at risk and yet seemingly they don’t give a damn. Well thank goodness our inspectors do.”

In addition to the vermin infestation, the takeaway was also described as ‘absolutely filthy’ by the inspector, with the kitchen thick with grease and filthy drying up cloths found hanging up to dry on a broom handle! The chef’s apron was also extremely dirty and brushes and scourers were found to be encrusted with food debris.

The Council’s Food and Safety Inspector closed the food outlet immediately after completing her inspection and served a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice on the owner of the business, Mrs Yee Ting Pang. On Friday (5 February) the matter was put before Stratford Magistrates’ Court, where a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order was granted to the Council so that the takeaway can remain closed until it can satisfy the inspector that all the problems have been addressed.

While the Council has powers to use a Notice to shut a food establishment temporarily, they need to get an Order signed by the court to agree that there is “a health risk condition”. This empowers the Council to insist that the owners of the business meet certain conditions before they can begin trading again.

The business will have to carry out deep cleaning, repair the structural damage and address the vermin problem amongst other measures before they will be allowed to reopen. They will likely also face a prosecution to be brought by the Council in the coming months.

PHOTOS: Fu Lam at 215 Forest Road, Walthamstow and some of the mouse gnawed lino and holes that allowed the vermin entry.

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