Record 64 food outlets forced to shut
RODENT droppings, maggots on meat and putrid fish were just some of the nasties found by health inspectors in food businesses last year.
Documents obtained by the Irish Independent reveal how 2011 was the worst year on record for food safety infringements, with a record number of premises forced to close because they posed a grave risk to public health. Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) figures show that 64 restaurants, pubs, shops and other food businesses were served with closure orders last year -- the highest tally since it was established in 1999.
But the statistics only tell part of the story, as documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the gory details behind the closures.
Maggots and mouldy meat at one foodstore led to the closure of its butchery department in April.
An environmental health inspector issued a closure order that remains in force to the butchery section of Cahill's foodstore in Crookstown, Co Cork, after discovering problems including dirty bloodstained walls and flies.
"Maggots were found on the meat debris collected in the tray under the cutting plate. The meat debris, which had not been removed for some time, was hard, dried out and clumped together and mouldy," the order stated.
Out-of-date food was a recurring problem at many outlets, with putrid meat and fish leading to a closure order being served on Charlie Stewarts/Seasons 52 in Parnell St, Ennis, Co Clare, in March.
"Large volumes of malodourous meat and fish were found in refrigerated storage, which had become putrid and were clearly in advanced stages of decomposition," the order said.
The entire premises was "extremely dirty" with equipment covered in food debris and grease and some foods, such as roast chicken and ham, sitting around at room temperature for an excessive period, the health inspector noted.
The order -- which did not apply to the bar area -- was lifted two days later when the problems were sorted out.
Rotten garlic, and cheese and burger buns that were two months past their best before dates were among the reasons why Mr Kebab on Dalton Street, Claremorris, Co Mayo, was closed in October.
Open bags of flour and spices in a storeroom with up to 50 live flies, overflowing bins and engrained dirt and a lack of proper soap or hand-drying for staff were also noted. The takeaway was allowed to re-open a few days later when the hygiene problems had been rectified.
Snails underneath the cooker, rodent droppings and gnawed boxes were all cited in the closure order served on Woks Cooking in Garraun, Parteen, Co Clare, in March 2011.
The order was lifted a fortnight later when the problem was sorted out.
A hot dog stand where the frankfurter sausages were stored in the car in the middle of summer was closed. The stand, operated by Martin McDonagh and Ross Ely in Churchill, Clones, Co Monaghan, was issued with a closure order on July 17, and this was lifted two weeks later.
Keeping pests away also proved too much of a challenge for many. Rat or mice infestations led to a number of premises being served with closure orders.
Recent cases last autumn included the Royal Hotel in Boyle, Co Roscommon; the Fleet Street basement of Doyle's bar in Dublin 2; the Deadman's Inn, Ballyfin, Co Laois; and Cafe Verde in the University of Limerick.
They were all allowed to re-open within days, as soon as the problems were dealt with.
Cockroaches, meanwhile, were the reason health inspectors ordered Bombay Spice, at 404 South Circular Road, Dublin 8, to close in September and the order remains in force.
Mixing staff accommodation with the food business contributed to the closure of two other businesses.
Hair was found in the fridge, with hairbrushes, an electric razor, toothbrushes and shampoo in the kitchen and no bathroom or shower facilities for staff sleeping at Punjab Curry House, Main Street, Schull, Co Cork. It received a closure order in June. The order was lifted two days later.
Filthy mattresses, used clothes, personal toiletries, pillows and duvets were found in the storeroom of a Co Wicklow takeaway, the Arklow Kebab House. It received a closure order in August, but this was lifted the next day.