Noodle bar fined for large rat infestation

Rat droppings and nesting material under a pallet in a store room at How Cha Noodle Bar, Luton
Rat droppings and nesting material under a pallet in a store room at How Cha Noodle Bar, Luton

A large rat infestation and very poor hygiene among staff resulted in How Cha Noodle Bar in Chapel Street being shut down and fined.

Council food safety officers were alerted to the noodle bar after a passer-by spotted a rat there last July.

In a hearing at Luton Magistrates Court on August 19 this year, a representative of the owner, Xing Yu Investment Ltd, pleaded guilty to seven food hygiene offences and was fined £9,380 plus £1800 prosecution costs.

The serious breaches of hygiene regulations included a large rat infestation, no pest control procedures in place, food preparation surfaces, equipment and utensils not being properly cleaned or disinfected and food not protected from contamination.

Because of the serious risk to public health, council food and safety officers closed the premises immediately using a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice.

The restaurant reopened four days later once the premises was pest free and adequate cleaning and structural work had been completed to allow food to be produced safely.

Officers visited the restaurant again in August to check hygiene standards were being improved and maintained.

However, during another follow-up check in November, officers discovered poor food handling practices and a lack of food safety management including high risk food kept outside temperature control with no record of recent temperature checks.

Food areas and containers were greasy throughout the premises.

There was poor personal hygiene among staff, especially poor hand washing, and food was not protected from contamination.

An environmental health spokeswoman said: “We aim to support Luton’s businesses but will not hesitate to use our enforcement options and court action where necessary to protect public health and safety.”

The court gave credit to the company for sending staff on training and having the premises professionally cleaned, but said they had to balance this with the risk to public health.

The restaurant is now under new ownership.

All high risk local food businesses are inspected by officers. For all the hygiene scores see For help from the Council’s Food and Safety team see or call 01582 510330.