Merton Food & Safety staff recently temporarily enforced the closure of a fast-food restaurant in Mitcham which was suffering from a heavy infestation of cockroaches, protecting residents from a range of food poisoning bacteria that could cause diarrhoea, fever, vomiting and abdominal cramps.
Environmental Health officers visited Morleys, 215a Manor Road, Mitcham, CR4 1JH on 14 November after a complaint from a customer who had seen a cockroach walking up the wall of the premises near the service counter.
On entering the shop at 11am, the officer saw leftover fried chicken from the night before in a holding unit, as well as chips in a bowl and in the drain tray of the fryer. The lack of handwashing facilities made it apparent hygiene was not a high priority in the establishment.
It was soon apparent that there was a widespread German cockroach infestation throughout the premises as all stages of cockroaches from nymphs to adult cockroaches were found in numerous places in the kitchen, including on top of food contact surfaces next to condiments and sauces.
Live nymphs (juvenile cockroaches) were found on the kitchen floor behind a freezer and two adult cockroaches were on the condenser at the back of the freezer. Another live nymph was found walking across an unopened container of cooking oil. Dead cockroaches were also found on this metal panel.
Officers served a hygiene emergency prohibition notice to immediately close the premises and prevent the sale of food to the public. They then successfully applied to Wimbledon Magistrates Court to obtain an order required the premises to remain closed until the public health risk had been removed.
The premises was reopened on 24 November following a deep clean, an extensive pest control treatment and the disposal of a large amount of equipment which was providing shelter to the cockroaches.
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 cockroaches 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 establishments that don’t respect the need to remain clean and safe for borough residents to visit.”