Cockroaches and rat droppings lead to record kitchen closures
RAT droppings, cockroach infestations and dirt-encrusted kitchens were among the reasons health inspectors were forced to close a record number of food businesses last year.
A total of 57 premises -- ranging from ice-cream vans to restaurants, butcher's shops and takeaways -- were served with closure orders in 2010 as inspectors moved to protect consumers from "grave and immediate dangers to public health".
This was the highest ever number of closure orders issued since the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) was set up in 1999 and the number receiving this ultimate sanction was up a staggering 67pc since 2009.
Records obtained from the FSAI by the Irish Independent under the Freedom of Information Act highlight the filthy conditions uncovered in food businesses around the country.
Filthy processing equipment containing dried, congealed meat with a foul rancid odour was just one of the litany of problems uncovered at Nour Foods butcher's shop in Abbey St, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, last year.
Inspectors also found blood-stained shelving, leaking water with algae, flies on boxes of chicken drumsticks, a weighing scales coated with dried blood and meat residues and white coats lying on the floor leading into the staff toilet.
Environmental health officers ordered the premises closed on September 22, but it was allowed to reopen two days later when the problems were rectified.
A spokesman for Nour Foods said the main problem was with the amount of red tape required for a small food business, but all problems had been resolved within 24 hours.
Meanwhile, copious rat droppings in the kitchen, storage and customer area, along with gnawed packaging and grease-encrusted surfaces under the fridge and cookers, resulted in the closure of a Co Wicklow takeaway.
The Cherry Blossom Takeaway and Restaurant at Unit 4, Watson and Johnson Centre, Church Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, was shut on July 28, but was allowed to reopen when the problems were cleaned up.
Dangerous levels of E coli contamination in lamb, and strawberry mousse -- as well as a foul smell in two cold rooms and poor food safety practices -- led to the closure of the kitchen of the Abbeyfield Hotel, Sligo Road, Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, on March 19, but the order was subsequently lifted when the problems were resolved.
Dry foodstuffs that were five years out of date as well as refrigerated cooked and raw meat with a "foul and tainted odour" led to a closure order being served on Newfoundland Public House Ltd in respect of Scaville Lodge Restaurant in Duncormick, Co Wexford.
The order -- which applied to the food business and not to the sale of drink -- was lifted on April 1 when the problems were sorted out.
In Co Galway, the Paradise Restaurant in Main Street, Oranmore, failed to live up to its name as a thick film of grease was found on surfaces in the cooking area, with dirty foul-smelling cloths in the areas where food was being prepared.
Microwaves and freezers were also found to be dirty while fridges were caked with dirt and food debris, and utensils were not properly cleaned.
The lid from a container of raw chicken kebabs had been wrongly placed on a container of cooked pork ribs posing a risk of cross-contamination.
The Paradise Restaurant was issued with a closure order on October 12 as a result of these health hazards, and it has not yet been lifted, according to the FSAI.
Cockroach infestation and possible contamination of foodstuffs led to the closure of the Tasty Grill on Dublin's South Richmond Street on August 16, though this was lifted five days later after the problem was sorted out.
Food stalls at music festivals were another source of grave concern last summer with inspectors swooping to close four ethnic stalls at the Festival of World Cultures in Dun Laoghaire because of a lack of handwashing facilities and foods being kept at the wrong temperature.
At Oxegen in Punchestown, Co Kildare, the 'Chinese Fast Food' stall was closed after an inspector found there was no food-safety system operating.