A TOWN CENTRE butcher’s shop has been shut down by the Council’s environmental health team after evidence of rats was discovered on the premises.

After a tip-off from a concerned member of the public who had spotted rat activity inside Kenya Meats at 20 West Street, Council food safety officers quickly conducted a hygiene inspection visit on February 27 2024.

Upon arrival, evidence of extensive rat activity was found throughout the premises. It included droppings in all food handling and storage areas, particularly in the butchery and basement.

Officers determined some products on display for sale on a shelf, fresh fruit and vegetables, the meat mincer and the hand-wash basin had all been exposed to rat contamination.

The affected stock was subsequently voluntarily surrendered and disposed of by the business.

It further emerged that the business had recently changed ownership, but had failed to properly register with Environmental Health, as is required by law.

Inspecting officers were satisfied that an immediate risk to health was presented by their findings.

They issued a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice, formally closing the shop down, and applied to the Magistrates Court to keep the premises closed until the health risk had been removed.

The case was presented to Reading Magistrates in court on Friday March 8 2024, and included officer witness statements and photographs from the inspection.

Magistrates agreed that the health risk condition was met in that an imminent risk of injury to health was present due to the condition of the premises on the date of the visit.

They expressed that the images presented in evidence were “self-explanatory” in demonstrating the risk to health posed to customers of Kenya Meats.

The Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order was upheld, and owners of the butchers were handed costs of £3,020, to be paid in three monthly amounts commencing in 28 days.

Cllr Ruth McEwan, Lead Councillor for Education and Public Health, said:

“I’m sure residents would join me in thanking the Council’s Environmental Health officers for their swift and decisive action following the report of rats from the member of the public to quickly stop the imminent risk to health.

“The decision to take action against a local small business is never taken lightly, however, hygiene standards must always be upheld – particularly in food premises. I want to reassure residents that we are constantly inspecting premises to ensure they can be confident the food they buy is safe to eat."