Dead mouse found in Sea Palling pub kitchen

During an inspection of a seaside pub an environmental health officer took photographs of what she thought was food debris on the kitchen floor.

However, on examining them more closely back at her office, North Norfolk council inspector Tracey Wright noticed the legs and tail of a dead mouse,

Appearing at Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court yesterday, Barbara Simmons, 52, the owner of the Old Hall Inn, in Stalham Road, Sea Palling, admitted five breaches of food hygiene regulations covering her failure to implement proper monitoring, failure to keep the premises clean, failure to keep equipment clean and not having adequate procedures to control pests.

Acknowledging the swift action taken to remedy the situation, the bench said the potential risk to public health had still been serious and fined Miss Simmons a total of �4,000 with �600 costs.

Cara Jordan, prosecuting for the council, said when Ms Wright visited on August 9 last year she saw sticky fly papers covered with insects above tables where food was being prepared.

Surfaces, fittings and equipment were dirty and greasy and the oven hob was covered in burnt food debris; the microwave was covered in food and there was what appeared to be black mould on the ice machine.

A diary meant for checking hygiene procedures were being implemented had not been filled in since 2008.

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Ms Jordan said: 'It was clear to Ms Wright there was no cleaning regime in place and the kitchen floor was dirty with food debris.

'She took photographs of the floor and it was later she noticed the legs and tail of a dead mouse in the debris.'

Returning to the pub with a colleague two days later, Ms Wright discovered evidence of an active rodent infestation.

Ms Simmons, who lives on the premises, then agreed to an immediate voluntary closure to tackle the infestation problem.

Dave Foulkes, defending, told the bench things had not been easy for Ms Simmons since she took over the pub and bed and breakfast establishment in 2008.

She had dismissed one member of staff for dishonesty and the two employees responsible for the kitchen last August had not been with her long.

Mr Foulkes said: 'She accepts things slipped and that she was overall responsible.'

He said a thorough clean was carried out as soon as the issues were identified and Ms Simmons now had a contract with a pest control company.

The centuries-old premises next to a farm posed difficulties for rodent control but there had been no further problems despite regular, rigorous environmental health checks.

Mr Foulkes said there had been no reported cases of customers suffering ill health.