6 February 2014

Mouse droppings cost restaurant £4000

A restaurant in Middle Street, Brighton, that pleaded guilty to four breaches of food hygiene was today ordered to pay over £4000 in fines, costs and victim surcharge at Brighton Magistrates Court (Thursday, February 6).

The Sukhothai Palace at 62 Middle Street had already voluntarily closed in June 2013 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.

There were mouse droppings on the floor in the kitchen, in the storeroom, on the threshold by the back door and on the floor in the corridor leading through to the kitchen.

Droppings were also found on the floor under the bar, on a plug attached to an adaptor, outside the door to the basement, on the external steps and in the cupboard off the stairs in the flat above the restaurant.

Baits and traps had been laid but insufficient effort had been made to block up pest access points.

Since the previous inspection in June, cleanliness had also lapsed, with debris on the floors in the dry goods storeroom, the bar and behind equipment in the kitchen; there were dead insects in the fly machine and grease was running down the kitchen wall from the ventilation canopy.

Officers also found the light level in the corridor between the toilets and the kitchen was so low it was difficult to see to clean properly and inspect for signs of pests.

Councillor Pete West, chair of Brighton & Hove’s environment committee, said: “The restaurant had already been advised in the summer and given a caution about cleanliness and hygiene, so should have taken steps to address the problems. That didn’t happen, so we had no alternative but to prosecute to protect the public.”

The food business operator Sukhothai Palace Ltd., recorded guilty pleas to four offences under food hygiene regulations in January. Sentencing was adjourned to today, February 6.

The company was subsequently fined £500 per offence, plus ordered to pay a £50 victim surcharge and full costs of £1970, making a total of £4020.