Merton Food & Safety staff recently closed down a restaurant in South Wimbledon which was suffering from a heavy infestation of rats, protecting residents from potential food poisoning and infection by bacteria which can cause salmonella and Weil’s disease.
Environmental Health officers visited Brazucas Point Café on Merton High Street on 18 May after receiving a complaint from an adjoining neighbour about the build-up of rubbish in the rear yard of the premises, which sold foods prepared onsite including salads, meat and rice dishes.
Upon arrival at the premises, an officer found the kitchen in operation and evidence of extensive rat activity in the food preparation areas. On closer inspection, it became clear there was a rat infestation at the premises as droppings were found throughout the food preparation area.
Kitchen equipment was also being stored directly on the floor which was contaminated with rat droppings. This business was also found to have failed to register as a food business with the council, and there were no facilities for staff to wash their hands to prevent disease transmission.
As there was an imminent risk to public health given the rat infestation, the premise was served a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice and forced to immediately cease trading as a food business, and a week later, this decision was ratified at Wimbledon Magistrates.
Councillor Eleanor Stringer, Cabinet Member for Civic Pride, said: “This is a great result for our Regulatory Services Team and for Merton residents. The sort of disease which can be transmitted by vermin, such as rats, in a kitchen have serious, life-threatening ramifications for unwitting customers.
“I commend the swift action of the Food & Safety team in helping keep the borough safe and for enforcing regulations which clamp down on unscrupulous establishments that don’t play by the rules.
“We look forward to working to ensure that future businesses based in these premises provide a high-quality service for diners.”