Major supermarket Asda has been fined over half a million pounds after a customer ate a bread roll covered in mouse droppings.
The incident occurred in September 2015, when local environmental officers and the retailer closed the bakery for ten days.
Asda admitted four charges of breaching the Food Safety Act, including failing to keep the premises clean, failing to ensure adequate procedures were in place to control pests, placing unfit food on the market and construction of premises which failed to control pests.
As well as a fine of £664,000, the retailer has been ordered to pay £500 in compensation, costs of £7,599 and a statutory surcharge of £120.
The store, in Park Royal, west London, had 72 visits in a single year from pest controllers, who found droppings in its bags of flour, food packaging, bread trolleys and production area.
But it was only after customer Mike Draycott, 58, ate cheese rolls from the store covered in “poisonous” mouse droppings, that environmental health officers and the chain closed the bakery last September.
A frozen mouse was also found in the entrance to the walk in-freezer and staff had left traps and bait boxes strewn across the floor, Uxbridge Magistrates Court heard.
An Asda spokesperson told British Baker: “We are truly sorry for the unacceptable conditions found in our Park Royal store in September 2015 and to Mr Draycott for his dreadful experience.
“We would like to reassure all our customers that we took immediate action to restore the high standards in the store that our customers expect from us.”
Councillor Ranjit Dheer, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for community services and safety, said: “This is a great result for the council and I am very pleased that the court has recognised the seriousness of these offences and has imposed such a heavy fine. People expect the highest standard when they shop for food and put their faith known brands and Asda should know better.”
Asda, which made a £512m profit last year, has since spent around £80k on refitting a new bakery and deep cleaning the ovens at the Park Royal store, and set aside 50 additional hours for cleaning every week. The company has also set out a new pest escalation plan for all stores.