If you think you’re safe from a cockroach infestation, think again. During a routine inspection by Greenwich environmental health officers, cockroaches ran out from behind a chest freezer at a Woolwich restaurant. The owner of the Restaurant was fined £3,650 and £1,500 costs when he appeared before Bromley Magistrates Court. The court was told that the officers had warned the owner on a previous visit that the restaurant had inadequate hygiene controls in place, and that none of the food handling staff had received any food hygiene and safety training.

During the inspection the officers also found mouse droppings in flour boxes and on some work surfaces. When the chest freezer was moved, cockroaches ran out from behind the motor area, where it is common for German cockroaches to dwell. One was also found in the freezer lids seal. There was no hot water anywhere in the restaurant, the kitchen was dirty and greasy and there were no active pest control practices in place all of this providing an ideal environment for pests to grow and multiply, the court was told. A staff member was seen placing pre-cooked chicken in the display units, which displayed a room temperature of nearly 22C, when the legal maximum for chilled display units is 8C or below. The court was told conditions like this create ideal conditions for food poisoning bacteria to grow. The business was ordered to close for six days or until the infestation was controlled and the hot water restored.
The court also heard that although the majority of food businesses in Greenwich complied with food hygiene laws, the conditions found in this restaurant were an extreme example of a food business owner failing to run his company properly and endangering its customers.

All food preparation and eating establishments are an ideal home for the German cockroach. With the abundance of readily available food and water around in a kitchen or storeroom, it is easy to see why. In large busy kitchens there are many places for cockroaches to hide. In cracks and crevices in the walls and units, behind any broken tiling, but the most preferred area is around fridges and freezers as they are on 24 hours a day so the motors provide both cover and warmth.

If you want to avoid the closures and fines that can come with cockroaches, make sure you clean your premises regularly, with a specialist deep clean 2-3 times a year, depending on the size and speed of your premises. Also make sure you have a regular pest control service in place, as this can help to find and dismiss any pest problems before they get out of hand.

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