A children's play centre in Luton has been fined over £11,000 for a string of food hygiene offences including dead mice.
The owners of Kidd N Play children's centre based in The Galaxy were sentenced at Luton Magistrates Court on Monday for a series of food hygiene offences, putting tots at risk.
Company directors Martin Chimoke, 46, and Mrs Kate Chimoke, 40, of Camberwell Place, Hemel Hempstead, both pleaded guilty.
In June 2018 a food safety officer carried out an inspection of Kidd N Play and found evidence of mouse activity and poor standards of cleanliness, structure and hygiene.
Mouse droppings were found in the food preparation, food servery and dining areas, and mouse droppings were also found in the soft play area, where young babies and children crawl and play.
A dead mouse was found in the bottom of a drinks chiller and there was no evidence of a pest control contract in place.
The premises was closed immediately using Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Powers to stop the food business operations, and a health and safety prohibition notice to prohibit the use of the soft play area until the health risk condition was removed.
Kidd N Play is typically frequented by babies, young toddlers and children who crawl and climb on the floor, mats and over soft play equipment. These children then sit at high chairs and tables and can eat food and drink prepared and produced on site for consumption.
Mice urinate and defecate on surfaces and equipment and carry disease. Evidence suggested that mouse activity had been prevalent throughout the entire premises.
The Limited Company was fined £11,357 and Mr Chimoke, Director was fined £1132.
Mrs Chimoke was given conditional discharge for 1 year for the health and safety offence, and ordered to pay a surcharge of £20 and £186 costs.
Laura Church, Corporate Director, Place and Infrastructure said: “It is vitally important, when providing services for the very young who have undeveloped immune systems, that hygiene standards are maintained, particularly in a premises that actively encourages crawling at floor level and interacting with soft play equipment.
“To operate a business where babies and children are encouraged to play, whilst knowingly allowing mouse activity to occur, and to have poor standards of cleaning and hygiene in both the kitchen, eating and play areas is absolutely inexcusable. We hope this prosecution reinforces our commitment to protecting residents and making sure that food businesses are operating within the law.’’
Food business operators must use reputable pest controllers, with a permanent contract in place. Businesses should check that their pest controllers are registered with the British Pest Control Association or The National Pest Technical Association.
Alternatively, food business operators can obtain advice and guidance and use the Council’s own pest control service by contacting 01582 546814 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Any food business found to have pest activity faces emergency closure and prosecution, and poor standards of cleanliness and continued poor performance will not be tolerated.
Any non-food business with pest activity on their premises will also have the appropriate enforcement action taken to protect public safety.
Customers can view the food ratings of any local establishments by visiting ratings.food.gov.uk