INFESTATIONS of mice, rats and cockroaches contributed to a record number of food businesses being forced to close this year.
The latest figures from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland reveal that 118 food businesses were issued with Closure Orders in 2013 and another 20 received prohibition orders banning the sale of risky foodstuffs.
And documents obtained by the Irish Independent show the details of why so many businesses fell foul of health inspectors.
Basic hygiene failures such as the absence of hot water or a lack of staff training caused numerous closures, with furry pests another leading cause of health concerns.
A Co Cork bakery was issued with a closure order in October after an environmental health officer discovered evidence of a mouse infestation.
"Mouse droppings were found in the bakery, confectionery kitchen, canteen, corridor and sanitary accommodation. A dead mouse was found in the canteen," the order stated.
Tom's Bakery at Unit 3, Knocknabohilly Industrial Estate, Farmlane, Kinsale, was allowed to reopen a week later when the problems were rectified.
But this was far from the only food business suffering problems with rodents, documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.
Popular Italian eatery the Steps of Rome on Dublin's Chatham Street was issued with a prohibition order in August banning the sale of food suspected to have been contaminated by rodents.
This was due to the "presence of rodent droppings adjacent to cabinets" which were not properly sealed. The order was lifted after the problems were rectified.
The long-established Goodworld Restaurant on Dublin's South Great George's Street was issued with a closure order in October due to the presence of cockroaches, a "breakdown in operational hygiene" and the "absence of any food safety management system".
This order was lifted within days when the problems were resolved.
Rat droppings, chewed packaging and droppings on boxes in a storeroom led to John Doyle's Bar on Phibsborough Road in Dublin 7 receiving a prohibition order in October.
This order, banning the sale of alcohol and soft drinks stored in the basement and ice machine, was lifted in November when the problems were sorted out.
Cobwebs, spiders, ingrained dirt and dust, pools of grease and a filthy freezer were among the reasons for a closure order being served on the Village Kitchen takeaway in Kilkerrin, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, in August.
The Environmental Health Officer said this followed numerous warnings and inspections where detailed advice was given on how to implement a proper food safety management system.
The premises was allowed reopen within days when the food safety problems were sorted out.