Croydon Council food safety officers brought charges against the store in North End after they received a complaint from a member of the public who said she had seen evidence of a rodent infestation on the shop floor of the store.
In February 2016, the officers investigated and found the infestation while also noting the shop was dirty and littered with mouse droppings; food on display had been gnawed and rodent urine and faeces were also found over packaging and products.
Investigators found that some of the products that had gnawed packaging had been “repaired” with adhesive tape and returned to the shop shelves for sale. Officers spoke to the store management at the time, who agreed to immediately cease the sale of food (it has since reopened).
In court, a judge fined the company £660,000 for the food safety offences, £500,000 for one of the health and safety at work offences and also said “the smell of rodents’ urine was discernible upon immediate approach to the food section of the store.” The judge also awarded costs of just more than £30,000 and a victim surcharge of £120, bringing the total figure to £1,190,529.60.
The basement and storage areas of the Poundworld were also contaminated with mouse droppings, while some areas were in darkness with very poor visibility.
Speaking after the hearing, Councillor Hamida Ali said, “I am pleased to see that by imposing such a substantial level of fines and costs, the courts take seriously the matter of food retailers’ responsibility to ensure they adhere to legal requirements designed to protect the health and safety of their customers and staff, The degree to which this company failed to uphold cleanliness and safety standards in its premier town-centre store beggars belief, and the financial penalty imposed is – to most people’s minds, I’m sure – entirely justified.”
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