A Hampshire hotel has incurred a fine and costs totalling more than £20,000 after it was found to be preparing food in rat-infested areas.
The Crown Manor Hotel in Lyndurst, which twice had to close its kitchens after inspectors found evidence of the infestation, pleaded guilty to five separate food hygiene offences at Southampton Magistrates’ Court this week.
Two of the charges involved the production, processing and distribution of food in areas where there was “an ongoing infestation of rats”.
Environmental health officers from New Forest District Council first visited the premises last October after receiving a tip-off about poor hygiene standards in the kitchen.
In a statement published by the Bournemouth Echo following the verdict, the council said: “Evidence of significant rodent activity was found in the kitchen. Fresh rodent droppings were found underneath and behind equipment, as well as gnawed eggshells and gnawed paper towel.
“Food was not protected against potential contamination. The standard of cleaning and maintenance in the kitchen was also found to be unacceptable.
“As a result of their findings, environmental health officers issued the company with a food hygiene improvement notice, requiring it to implement an effective food safety management system.
“The hotel received a food hygiene rating of 0, the worst rating under the food hygiene rating scheme.”
The statement said the hotel agreed to close the kitchens and re-open them a few days later after cleaning had been carried out.
However, during routine follow-up checks inspectors found that food was again being prepared in the kitchen despite fresh evidence of rat activity. The company voluntarily agreed to close the kitchen until the infestation had been removed.
Councillor Edward Heron, Cabinet member for environment, said: “Environmental health officers took necessary action to protect the health of customers and staff and I am pleased that The Crown Manor House Hotel has responded with improvements and received a food hygiene rating of 4.”
The hotel was fined a total of £16,670 and ordered to pay costs of £4,326.