Coffee giant Starbucks has been fined £12,000 after one of its London branches was found infested with mice.
Mouse droppings were found next to spoons, knives, cups, food wrap and boxes of biscuits and coffee that were about to be used at the Villiers Street café near Charing Cross.
A Westminster Council environmental health officer reported a strong smell of mice and found filth and droppings.
London’s City of Westminster magistrates heard that a combined office and store room had a dirty floor, and cups of cold coffee and utensils were lying around.
There was also an ‘accumulation of detritus’ on the floor near the dishwasher in the customer service area.
Starbucks Coffee Company (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to four counts of food safety and hygiene breaches.
It admitted that the outlet hadn’t been kept clean and its food handlers weren’t adequately supervised or instructed in food hygiene.
It also admitted having inadequate pest control procedures there and said that its food hadn’t been properly protected against the risk of contamination.
Deputy District Judge Paul Southern fined the chain £3,000 for each offence and ordered it to pay £2,832 costs for its ‘lamentable failure’.
The judge said: ‘The management fell short of what was required of it. It is quite clear to me there was a lamentable failure by management of Starbucks UK, which led to a totally unacceptable state of affairs, which in turn led to a complete failure in the obligation to customers that food should be served in a hygienic and safe manner.’
After the case, Starbucks Coffee Company (UK) Ltd Managing Director Phil Broad said: ‘We sincerely regret that standards of food hygiene were compromised at one of our London stores in November 2005 where our stringent procedures were not followed.
‘We have addressed this matter with the individuals concerned at the store who have either moved to other parts of the business or have since left the company. This is the only time that Starbucks UK has been subject to legal proceedings of this nature in the eight years that the business has been in operation.’