PICTURES taken by a shocked food hygiene inspector show a supermarket so dirty a dead rat was discovered rotting in a mouse trap.
Akram’s Oriental Supermarket in Southsea was infested with rodents, with a city council health expert finding fresh rat droppings next to food, raw sewage bubbling out of an open drain and floors caked in filth.
The Palmerston Road store was found to have rotting food in the store room, with staff demonstrating a lack of basic food hygiene procedures.
Owner Yusuf Ali pleaded guilty to 13 food safety and hygiene offences at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court.
Jenny Ager, prosecuting for Portsmouth City Council, told how a standard inspection was carried out at the site on September 22, 2015.
During this an inspector found holes in doors and roofs which allowed pests into the store and that hygiene standards were at ‘dangerously low levels’.
Ms Ager added: ‘The shop clearly had a problem with rats as evidenced by the numerous rat droppings found around.
‘The officer found a dead rat in a trap in the rear store adjacent to the walk-in fridge and walk-in freezer.
‘Mr Ali said he knew he had a rat problem and that there was a rat in the trap but that he wanted to leave it there to show his children who had never seen a rat before and were due back from boarding school.’
Following the inspection the shop was given the lowest food hygiene rating available and warned things needed to change.
But after three further assessments – with the last on August 23 – health chiefs found the dad-of-eight Ali had done ‘little to fix the problems’, Ms Ager said.
Justice of the Peace Paul Clarke said: ‘The standards of hygiene all fell far short of what any customer attending the premises would reasonably expect to find if they go to purchase some food there.
‘It can only have been a matter of luck that no-one became ill or reported they were ill as a result of these shortcomings.’
Since the failings, Ali – of Chichester Road, North End – said improvements had been made and additional food safety training had been undertaken.
Pest controllers had been called in to tackle the rat infestation.
Ali was fined £2,520 and ordered to pay £1643.22 in costs. Magistrates also fined his company, Southsea Spices Limited, £30,000 for the breaches in food safety.
Councillor Robert New, the council’s environment and community safety boss, said the council had been forced to prosecute because Ali had ignored advice and warnings.
‘This is a well-known business which has enjoyed the trust of many customers, who will be shocked to learn that it failed to keep up fundamental standards of hygiene,’ Cllr New said.
‘We try to work with food businesses, and only prosecute around one per cent. This is one of those times we have been forced to go to court because a business has ignored our advice and warnings.”