Shoppers 'saw rodent droppings in Tesco store'

A COURT has heard from customers who saw evidence of rodents in a Tesco supermarket.

Anthony Bond

A COURT has heard from customers who saw evidence of rodents in a Tesco supermarket.

Two customers gave evidence at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court in Ipswich yesterdayas part of a trial involving the Tesco Extra Martlesham Heath store.

Suffolk Coastal District Council has brought eight charges against the food giant, which include having inadequate environmental health procedures in place to deal with rodents and failing to “pest proof” the building. Tesco denies the charges which relate to incidents between April 30 and August 15, 2007.

Denise Goldsmith said that on carrying out her weekly shop at the store in April 2007, she saw a rat scurrying underneath shelving containing pre-packed cold meats.

“I came into the aisle and saw a rat come out of one side of the aisle and go across and scurry into the flexible skirting in the bottom,” she said, before adding: “It was big and rat-like.”

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The court also heard from Amanda Shave who visited the store in June 2007. She described how she was looking at packets of multi-pack crisps and found about 25 mice droppings and also noticed that five or six multi-pack packets had been chewed in the corners.

When asked what she did when she found the droppings, Mrs Shave said: “I asked another shopper if she thought they were mouse droppings. Her reply was 'they better not be'. We looked at them together and she brushed some of them onto her shopping list. I then started to take multipacks of crisps of the shelf two at a time and then we saw more mouse droppings at the back of the shelf and the multipack of crisps had the corners chewed.”

A written statement was read out in court by another customer who said she saw a rodent jump down from inside a fridge containing food.

Jane Ruffell, a technical officer at the time with Suffolk Coastal District Council environmental health, who worked in the food safety team, told the court of a large build up of mouse droppings near where produce for the in-store bakery was kept.

She said: “My main concern was the sheer number of droppings which either indicated a poor standard of cleaning in that area or a large number of mice.”

The trial continues today.