Inspectors reveal a stomach-churning litany of breaches in restaurant laws
Health inspectors have uncovered filthy and stomach-churning hygiene breaches in the kitchens of restaurants, takeaways, pubs and hotels - placing customers at risk of potentially serious illness.
In one case, raw sewage was found in the food storage area of a café while rat and mouse droppings were also discovered behind the scenes where meals were prepared for the unsuspecting public.
The worst offenders, which were flagrantly ignoring health rules, were subjected to closure orders by inspectors from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) in 2016.
The watchdog announced yesterday its inspectors served 94 closure orders, three improvement orders and nine prohibitions last year.
Unannounced inspections uncovered a series of kitchen nightmares, according to a series of unpublished and damning reports seen by the Irish Independent.
One ethnic restaurant was so bad inspectors said they found rotten food so severely decayed it was not "possible to say what it was".
"There was a layer of dirty and smelly liquid in the bottom of the glass-topped freezer and there was mould growing in the fridges and freezers that weren't in use," it revealed.
"In addition there were thick cobwebs on the waste pipes over the preparation surfaces."
There was a significant and widespread infestation of flies, including blue bottles throughout the premises.
"The infestation was such that it was almost not possible to move any piece of equipment without disturbing a number of flies," the FSAI said.
The revolting report's highlights include:
Buckets of paint, old curtains and old carpets were stored in the kitchens of a meat and grocery store. Dead flies were on the floor and window;
There was no evidence a food worker had any training in safety;
Staff in a takeaway were washing containers in a sink while splashing dirty water on to prawns being defrosted;
Inspectors described how staff at a food delivery business were seen preparing iceberg lettuce next to raw chicken and cleaning chemicals, increasing the risk of the spread of bugs such as campylobacter, which can cause food poisoning being spread. In the same premises, raw chicken and a plastic bag of raw meat were left in a dirty wash-up sink;
The grease tray in a hotel kitchen was overflowing and covered in mould growth. The kitchen was filthy with dirt visible under the cooking equipment, the fridge units, wash hand basins, food sinks and dishwasher floor.
Dr Pamela Byrne, chief executive at FSAI, said enforcements were never served for minor food safety breaches, only where there was serious risk to health.
"There is no excuse for careless food safety practices," she said.