A SERIES of food hygiene offences has cost a Welshpool business over £43,000 after it received a hefty fine from Llandrindod Wells Magistrates.

Representatives of First Stop (Welshpool) Limited appeared at Llandrindod Wells Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, September 13, and pleaded guilty to 10 hygiene offences and asked for a further three to be taken in to consideration.

Magistrates fined First Stop £40,000 for the 13 offences and ordered them to pay £3,000 prosecution costs and a mandatory surcharge of £170.

The raft of offences included:

• Failure to put in place procedures to control pests.

• Failure to protect food from contamination likely to render food unfit.

• Failure to maintain the food premises in a clean condition.

• Failure to provide hot water at wash hand basins.

• Failure to make adequate provision for the storage and disposal of refuse.

• Failure to comply with a Hygiene Improvement Notice.

The court heard how an environmental health officer from the Powys County Council visited the premises in Welshpool in November 2016, having received a complaint from a member of the public regarding rat activity in the shop.

The complainant said that they had seen rats in the shop area.

An officer who visited the same day found evidence of a severe rat infestation.

Gnawed food and food packaging was found throughout the premises including on the shelves where food was displayed for sale.

The officer also found that staff at the store had been aware of the presence of rats and had routinely removed gnawed foods from sale every morning.

Due to the health risk caused by the infestation of rats, the officer closed the food premises by serving a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice. The business remained closed until the rat infestation was eliminated.

Magistrates also heard that company failed to comply with a Hygiene Improvement Notice served in respect of one of the refrigerators.

As a result of the inspection, the premises was awarded the lowest Food Hygiene Rating of zero.

However the company did not display their rating sticker correctly, in that only the rear of the sticker was visible to customers as they entered the premises, and not the face of the sticker which showed the zero rating.

Despite being warned about the incorrect display, the rating was not displayed correctly, consequently a fixed penalty notice was issued however the company did not pay this, as a result, this offence was also considered by the magistrates.