Black Country off licence owner fined after rat found on fridge

A Black Country shop owner has been forced to fork out more than £8,000 after rats were found in his off licence.

A dead rat on top of a large drinks fridge was one of a number of breaches Environmental Health officers found
A dead rat on top of a large drinks fridge was one of a number of breaches Environmental Health officers found

Alap Bhavsar admitted two charges of breaching food safety and hygiene regulations at The Drink Shop in Darlaston after a dead rat was found on top of one of the store's commercial fridges.

The rodent was found during a routine food hygiene inspection at the shop in Darlaston Road in October 2019.

When officers from Walsall Council checked the business’ pest control report, they found that rodent activity had been recorded two weeks earlier.

Holes were then found in a wall and ceiling junction.

The Drink Shop was formally closed under a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice on the day of the inspection and a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order was granted at court three days later.

It was allowed to reopen two weeks later once environmental health instructions were met, including immediate actions from a pest control contractor.

A dead rat was found on top of a fridge at The Drink Shop in Darlaston

Evidence shown at Dudley Magistrates Court included photos of the dead rat, a number of gnawed noodle containers, a gnawed bait box and rat droppings found near food.

Bhavsar pleaded guilty to failing to have adequate procedures in place at his premises to control pests and a failure to prevent rodents from gaining access to the site.

In mitigation, Bhavsar's solicitor argued that the owner had attempted to eradicate the rats himself, then called a well-known rodent contractor to address the issue.

He also said that two days after the pest company had arrived, Bhavsar had to leave the country for a family emergency and a left a shop assistant in charge of his premises.

Bhavsar was fined £3,200 for each charge and told to pay prosecution costs of £2,149 along with a victim surcharge cost of £181, making a total cost of £8,730.

Councillor Garry Perry, deputy leader and portfolio holder for regulatory services at Walsall Council, said he welcomed the prosecution and said the council would take robust action against businesses who disregard the law.

He said: "Whilst the rat appears to have enjoyed a festive treat, this irresponsible business owner placed others at risk.

"These were serious offences that required council officers to use emergency powers to close a rat-infested business and safeguard public health."

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