Advice has been given to customers who bought items from rat-infested Kenya Meats.

The town centre butchers, at 20 West Street, has since been closed by Reading Borough Council who found evidence of extensive rat activity throughout the premises.

It included droppings in all food handling and storage areas, particularly in the butchery and basement.

The Environmental Health Team at Reading Borough Council has said that those who bought from Kenya Meats should refrain from eating the produce and return the items for a full refund.

A spokesperson for the Environmental Health Team made the following statement:

“Officers identified an imminent health risk from food contamination and unsanitary conditions throughout the premises due to extensive rat activity, and this is likely to have been the case for some time.

They continued “For these reasons, we would advise any products purchased from the business are not consumed, and customers should return any uneaten food for a full refund, as it was not of satisfactory quality.”

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

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.