A bargain shop has been handed the biggest ever fine after inspectors discovered a rodent infestation that was so bad some of the rats were DEAD.
Poundland was fined £100,000 and forced to shut after health inspectors discovered a widespread and uncontrolled rodent infestation throughout the store.
Mouse droppings and evidence of urine were found on food shelves alongside gnawed and soiled packets of biscuits, nuts, sweets and popcorn.
Droppings were found throughout the store and the behind-the-scenes storage areas of the discount store, including on baby clothes.
Pictures taken by health inspectors shows dead rats caught in traps and chewed bags of food.
Rodents munched through packets of sunflower seeds, popcorn, and spicy nuts.
The retail giant is now counting the cost of ignoring the major mouse infestation at its flagship store in Wandsworth, after being hit by magistrates with what is believed to be one of the country’s heaviest ever retail food safety fines.
The company has been given the whopping fine after a court was told one of its busiest branches in the Southside shopping centre in south London and it had to be closed using emergency powers in January last year after food safety inspectors uncovered the infestation.
Cllr Jonathan Cook, community safety spokesman, said: “This was a very serious rodent infestation in a busy and popular retailer so there was a very real and significant risk to public health.
“When our inspectors uncovered the scale of the problem they had absolutely no option other than use their emergency powers to order the entire store’s immediate closure.
“It was not permitted to reopen until the company was able to prove it had dealt with the problems and taken adequate steps to prevent it happening again.
“This episode showed a complete lack of regard for customer’s health and welfare and is reflected in the very substantial fine imposed on the company by the court.
“Food retail businesses must ensure that they do not jeopardise public health in any way if they don’t want to suffer a similar fate.”
Wimbledon magistrates court heard that Poundland Limited had been previously prosecuted on three occasions for similar outbreaks at other stories, including a £73,000 fine at Birmingham crown court, a £12,000 fine at Highbury Corner magistrates’ court and a £33,000 fine at Luton magistrates’ court.
In this case Poundland Limited pleaded guilty to four offences and in addition to the £100,000 fine the company was also ordered to pay £12,368 towards Wandsworth Council’s costs in bringing the case to court.