McDonald’s has been hit with a fine of more than half a million dollars after a mouse infestation was found at one of its branches in England.

The fast food chain was fined £475,000 ($596,500) after a rodent infestation was discovered by Waltham Forest Council’s environmental health officers at a restaurant on High Road in Leytonstone.

McDonald’s was also ordered to pay £22,000 ($27,600) in costs at Thames Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to three hygiene breaches.

Environmental health officers visited the restaurant in October 2021 after a customer complained they had found droppings in their 24-hour drive-through order. This person was half-way through eating their cheeseburger when they noticed what they thought was a mouse dropping on the inside of the wrapper.

After receiving the complaint, environmental health officers visited the restaurant and found conditions at the premises which presented a risk to the health of consumers.

Closed while problems fixed
Amongst the findings were the decomposing remains of a mouse and droppings throughout the outlet, including on the floor of the food preparation and main cooking section, in the main cooking area next to a tray of cooking utensils, in the hot holding food preparation area on the floor and in a box containing a bottle of caramel drizzle drink sauce.

Poor hygiene conditions were found by officers despite paperwork claiming cleaning schedules had been completed.

Council officers determined the premises was so unhygienic that it posed an imminent risk to health and ordered the restaurant be closed with customers asked to leave. The site remained shut for 10 days, until the council’s officers were satisfied that all issues had been resolved, and it was allowed to re-open.

The court heard that pest control company Ecolab had a contract to inspect the Leytonstone branch for pests twice a month but missed “obvious” signs of issues.

Khevyn Limbajee, from Waltham Forest Council, said the authority was grateful to the customer for reporting the matter for investigation.

“There was a significant risk posed to the health of residents and visitors to Waltham Forest and as such the council had no option but to take formal action in this case,” he said.

“McDonald’s is a large and well experienced food business operator in the fast-food sector who serves thousands of meals per week to its customers, therefore the risk presented at the Leytonstone store was significant. It was appreciated that McDonald’s pleaded guilty and admitted wrongdoing at the first opportunity, however as a council we take food hygiene seriously and won’t hesitate to follow up complaints and take action where appropriate, irrespective of who operates the food business.”

Problems at Subway outlet
In another case, franchisees of a Subway fast food restaurant in England were fined almost £12,000 ($15,000) for breaching food hygiene, pest control and contamination regulations.

In late March, SRAJ Subs Limited, who operates the franchise of the implicated Subway restaurant in Enfield Town and its three company directors, pleaded guilty to all charges at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court. The total penalty including fines and costs was almost £21,000 ($26,400).

The company was prosecuted for breaching food safety and hygiene regulations around pest control, prevention of contamination, failure to keep the premises clean and in good repair and a failure to implement and maintain a permanent procedure based on the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles.

Offences were discovered during a routine visit to the restaurant by Enfield Council’s environmental health and food safety team in November 2021, where they identified drain flies, a lack of cleanliness, mouse droppings and a live mouse stuck to a sticky glue board trap. This led to the voluntary closure of the premises as it posed an imminent risk to public health and the site was given a Food Hygiene Rating Scheme score of zero.

Further visits found a hole in the wall, mouse droppings in the cupboard on the first floor in the customer seating area, gaps around pipes that needed sealing, rat droppings near a rear waste pipe in the washing up area, the electric fly killer was not working properly and evidence of drain flies and mouse droppings in the till area.

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