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Cockroach Infested Restaurant Ordered to Close

A Walthamstow restaurant which was found crawling with cockroaches and layers of grease has been ordered to close immediately due to the serious risk it presented to public health.

Food safety officers from Waltham Forest Council paid a visit to Palii Maamala’s restaurant on Hoe Street, Walthamstow on Monday 12 September, and witnessed a series of food hygiene breaches which resulted in them serving the premises with a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice (HEPN).

Cllr Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment said: “Restaurants that put the health of their customers at risk by operating in such disgusting conditions have no place in Waltham Forest. It is frankly unbelievable that the owners thought it was acceptable to operate a food business in such an unhygienic environment.

“I’m glad that the court agreed with the verdict of our officers and this premises will be staying shut until we are satisfied that the owners have got their act together.”

Upon entering the kitchen to carry out their inspection the food safety officer noticed cockroaches behind a freezer. The freezer was then moved out and a number of adult cockroaches and nymphs came out, which showed that the infestation had been there for some time.

More cockroaches and droppings were found on shelving containing open food, dinner plates and other equipment. Cockroaches were also found living in a box of paper hats that were worn by the chefs. The ventilation in the kitchen was found to be extremely poor, with the hot conditions making it a perfect environment for cockroaches to thrive in. The cooker was also found to be thick with grease, and containers were encrusted with old food. The whole building was found to be in a filthy condition, including an upstairs function room where cockroaches were also found.

Due to the obvious risk to public health the officer served the owner of the premises with the HEPN requiring them to close immediately, and gave them a list of work that was required before they could reopen. A Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order was received at Stratford Magistrates' Court on Wednesday 14 September, confirming the closure. The Council will be applying for the restaurant owner to cover its court costs.

In a separate action this week food safety officers visited a supermarket for a routine inspection and discovered 593 packs of cheese and yogurts which were displayed for sale at room temperature. The items should have been stored in the fridge and the failure to properly store the product could have resulted in food poisoning. The business owner surrendered the incorrectly stored produce to the officers who destroyed the food. Investigations into this incident are ongoing. 

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