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Council Calls for Stronger Powers as Two More Filthy Food Businesses are Closed

Waltham Forest Council is calling for much stronger powers to combat filthy food outlets that put the health of residents at risk, after two more businesses in the borough were forced to close for serious hygiene breaches.

Delicatessen 379 on Church Road, Leyton and Hajis on Lea Bridge Road, Leyton were both ordered to close on Thursday 10 November following visits made by Council food safety inspectors.

Cllr Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment said: “We want our residents to be able to buy food from local businesses safe in the knowledge that it has been prepared in a safe and hygienic environment. That’s why we will continue to come down hard on businesses that put their customers’ health at risk.

“We understand residents’ frustration when we close a food business only for it to reopen a short time later, but the law states that we cannot keep them closed once they have made the improvements required of them. We will keep doing all we can and will look to prosecute serious offenders, but I am also going to be pressing government to give local authorities stronger powers to close down filthy food businesses for good.

“One of the things we would like to see is the introduction of a licensing system for all food businesses, similar to the one required for premises that sell alcohol. The licence would need to be renewed annually and include an annual inspection as part of the cost.”

On entering Delicatessen 379 the Council’s food safety inspector found evidence of a serious mouse infestation, including a dead mouse and droppings by the back door. Cockroaches were also found to be living in and around a chest freezer that was used to store baguettes and paninis. Cockroaches were also seen running along food preparation areas, and dead cockroaches and droppings were found under chopping boards. 

There were similar scenes at Hajis halal meat and grocery store, where an inspector encountered a dead mouse beneath a shelf, mouse droppings on the floor, live cockroaches on the walls, and dead cockroaches on the lid of a meat freezer.

Both premises were served with Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notices, which require them to close immediately. Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Orders were granted on both businesses at Stratford Magistrates Court on Monday 14 November, which means they must stay closed until inspectors are satisfied that the hygiene issues identified have been addressed. Magistrates also awarded court costs to the Council in both cases.

At present food businesses do not require a licence before they open, but they must be registered with the Council. There are currently around 2,000 registered food businesses in Waltham Forest, and the Council carries out 800 hygiene inspections each year.

Some premises will be inspected more regularly than others, depending on the type of business and their previous food safety record.

While there are a number of reasons why a food safety inspector may decide to close a business, the law states that they must allow it to re-open once the immediate risk to health has been removed. If there are significant breaches of food safety law the Council can seek prosecution against the operator. The Council can also apply for a Prohibition Order which would prohibit that person from operating a food business.

When a food business is inspected it will be awarded a Food Hygiene Rating from 0 to 5. In England, it is not a legal requirement for food businesses to display their Food Hygiene Rating, but most well run establishments will display their hygiene rating in a prominent position, often in a window. Residents can also check food hygiene ratings on the Food Standards Agency website - 

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