3 January 2014

French restaurant with rodent access fined for food hygiene breaches

A Brighton restaurant that voluntarily closed after council officers found dead mice and rodent droppings was ordered to pay just over £4,500 at Brighton Magistrate’s court for food hygiene breaches on Thursday, 2 January.

One of the council’s food safety officers visited Maison Du Vin, 70 East Street in the Lanes last October following a complaint. They found two dead mice on traps in the basement and mice and rat droppings in the food preparation, storage and handling areas.

Droppings were even found on the napkins in the restaurant store and extensive smear marks on the lower skirting boards where rodents had been.

The establishment’s unwelcome visitors were able to gain easy access to all parts of the premises, from the basement right up to the customer dining area, due to poor maintenance of the property. The rodents virtually had their own private corridor as they used damaged waste pipes to travel around the building and drink from them. They were also getting in from holes in the walls that they had gnawed through and gaps under doors.

The restaurant’s owners Larius Limited of 70 East Street and 36 Ship Street, Brighton, pleaded guilty to two charges of food hygiene breaches and were fined £1,500 for each offence, plus £1,496 costs and £120 victim surcharge.

Councillor Pete West, chair of the city’s environment committee, said: “This is quite shocking. When you go out for a meal you expect establishments to be scrupulous about hygiene as a matter of course. Sadly that is not always the case and that’s why the council’s food safety service is there to protect customers and prosecute when necessary.

“Fortunately most establishments are rated good or very good and the council supports food outlets by providing food hygiene ratings which gives people the opportunity to look up how a place is rated before booking or visiting.”

  • In a separate case, the Sukhothai Palace, 62 Middle Street, Brighton, pleaded guilty to four offences under food hygiene regulations. The premises had voluntarily closed in June after council food safety officers found an imminent risk to health from an active mouse infestation. The restaurant cleaned up and re-opened but in October when officers returned for a routine inspection they discovered signs of mice throughout the building. Sentencing was adjourned until 6 February.

Find out about food hygiene ratings at: www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/hygienerating