Superstore was 'heavily infested with mice'

A SUPERSTORE site was “heavily” infested with mice which climbed through gaps in the walls and onto the shop floor, a court has heard.

Naomi Cassidy

A SUPERSTORE site was “heavily” infested with mice which climbed through gaps in the walls and onto the shop floor, a court has heard.

The pest control at Tesco store in Martlesham was also called into question at South East Suffolk Magistrate's Court yesterday after it was heard that experts were not convinced a proper cleaning programme was introduced once the infestation had been discovered.

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.

The court heard that in the early stages, it was believed the situation was under control and there was only one mouse on the shop floor.

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However, Colin Smith, technical support manager for Rentokil pest control who helps Tesco with their pest control strategy, said following his inspection on April 25, there was found to be infestation in the roof, the compactor (a waste disposal chute) and in the wall cavities, as well on the shop floor. Although Mr Smith told his Rentokil technician at the store to put bait down in the roof on April 25, this was not done until May 1.

Mr Smith said: “He [the technician] had concentrated his efforts on the shop floor. I wanted to see what was really going wrong. As a whole it was heavily infested although on the shop floor, the infestation was light.

“If a mouse was seen on March 15, they should have been gone by early April. It takes seven to 14 days to kill them.”

The court also heard from Brenda Hammond, an environmental health officer on the food and safety team at Suffolk Coastal District Council, who went to the store on June 15 following a complaint from a member of public about some damaged crisp packets and mouse droppings. On inspection she found one mouse dropping and a multipack of crisps with the corner chewed. There was also food debris on the shelf. The company was taking steps to deal with it but on a return inspection visit, she revealed the cleaning was not up to standard.

She told the court: “I was not happy with the level of cleaning on the shelving. I did not think the standard of cleaning was very good if they knew they had a pest problem.”

Dr Murray Anderson, director of Kill Germ Chemicals, added: “After the initial sighting there should have been a very stringent cleaning programme put in place. As soon as the rodent was located there should be increased vigilance of cleaning. I felt this was not put into practice.”

The trial will continue with the defence case on November 30.