Warning: This story may make you lose your appetite for lunch.
Tesco was slapped with a £57,000 court bill yesterday after a “super mouse” leaving unusual pink droppings was found at its Covent Garden stores.
The mouse, twice the size of a normal rodent, was discovered in a food crate feasting on raw meat by health inspectors. The size of the mouse was attributed to the rodent gnawing chicken wings, ribs, sausages and chicken legs.
The rodents reportedly entered the store premises through loose tiles, pipes and doors that had not been fixed.
Tesco admitted six food hygiene breaches at the Westminster Magistrates Court. However, as the maximum fine at the court is capped at £30,000, the case was sent to Southwark Crown Court.
Paul Sharkey, representing Westminster City Council which carried out the inspection, said: “There was extensive evidence of mouse droppings, extensive quantities of raw chicken found in a walk-in fridge which had been gnawed by mice and live mice were seen running from crate to crate of raw meat products.
“There was also evidence of nesting in the insulation of pipe work.”
He said that droppings were found near pastry and at a pick ‘n’ mix counter.
“Upon entering a dairy walk-in fridge one of the environmental officers was overcome by a terrible smell which turned out to be a dead mouse,” he continued.
“Alarmingly bags of chicken were found which were well past their sell-by date with no indication that the chicken would not be used for sale.”
Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith imposed the fine and also ordered the company to pay £11,822 court costs.
“On March 21 last year a member of the public noticed a mouse in Tesco Metro and reported it to Westminster City Council,” he said.
“Two days later two environmental officers visited the store and found a number of unsatisfactory features.
“One might have expected the company to react vigorously but it did not.
“Nothing was done over the weekend when the manager was away and when officers returned on the Monday following a further complaint by a member of the public the situation was the same, if not worse than it had been.
“It is remarkable that something like this could occur within an organisation such as Tesco which has to be so careful with its reputation.
“But I am satisfied it is a local and specified failure of management and one that has been dealt with.”
Mark Watson, representing Tesco, said the manager of the store has since been replaced.
“I make an unreserved apology on behalf of the company,” he added.
“As can be seen from the photos the conditions in the store were unacceptable.
“Its 3,000 stores generally maintain very high standards.”
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