'We have nothing to defend' - owner of crèche closed after evidence of rodent infestation
The owner of a crèche that was ordered to close after evidence of a rodent infestation said they "have nothing to defend".
Patricia Kerr, owner of Aladdin's Cave Montessori School and Crèche, said that they regularly have inspections carried out at the crèche and that the closure was "routine".
Aladdin's Cave Montessori School and Crèche in Ardee, Co Louth was one of three businesses served with a Closure Order by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland in March under the FSAI Act, 1998, according to a report released on Monday.
Inspectors warned that a "grave and immediate danger was found" due to a failure to comply with hygiene regulations.
They said: "Evidence of extensive rodent activity was found in the main food preparation area/kitchen; posing a risk to food, food preparation services, equipment and utensils.
"Rodent droppings were evident in a tall cupboard unit housing a boiler, the door of which was not pest proof, providing direct access to the kitchen, including food preparation and storage areas.
"Children's food trays were stored on top of the boiler where evidence of rodent droppings were found."
The report noted that a rodent infestation was found in the baby room, preschool room one, preschool room two, middle room, nappy changing area directly adjoining the toddler room, the laundry room/freezer storage and cleaning store.
The closure order was issued on March 6 and lifted on March 11.
Owner Patricia Kerr told Independent.ie: "We are 100 per cent compliant, we closed for a few days to allow pest control to carry out their checks, we are fully compliant.
"Our customers have all been informed and were fully understanding that we closed and that everything is completely okay, it hasn't affected our business.
"We have nothing to defend."
Commenting on the Enforcement Orders served in March, FSAI Chief Executive Dr Pamela Byrne said that food business operators must ensure that their premises complies with hygiene standards.
Dr Byrne said: “Consumer health in relation to food is our priority, and the FSAI, together with the inspectorate, strives to ensure that all food businesses abide by the legal requirements placed upon them.
"Food businesses must ensure that their premises are kept clean and that they are pest proofed and yet each month, inspectors are finding recurring incidents of filthy premises and rodent infestations.
"Enforcement Orders tarnish the food industry as a whole and can damage consumer confidence.
"The onus is on each individual food business to take responsibility and commit to ensuring high food safety standards and compliance with the law..
"Non-compliance by food businesses will not be tolerated and all breaches of food safety legislation will be dealt with to the full extent of the law.”
Details of the food businesses served with Enforcement Orders are published on the FSAI’s website at www.fsai.ie.