Scotland: Restaurant closed for using food “clearly gnawed by rodents”

A couple of my friends are departing for Edinburgh, Scotland later this month to teach and travel. Aside from the usual packing advice – my luggage was 17 pounds overweight when I departed for New Zealand – I’ve forwarded along this story to the Canadian travelers.

Deadline Scotland Online is reporting that an Edinburgh restaurant, The Star Sea (see right) was issued an Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice for posing an imminent risk to public health, but re-opened 13 days later.

Inspectors visiting the Star Sea Restaurant in Edinburgh’s busy Lady Lawson Street described the infestation of rodents as “completely out of control”. City of Edinburgh Council was so concerned about the potential threat to public health that they issued an Emergency Prohibition Notice to stop it trading.

A council statement issued yesterday said:

“This inspection uncovered evidence of a mouse infestation which was completely out of control and food being used to prepare meals which had been clearly gnawed by the rodents…The hand washing facilities were inadequate, sinks were leaking and backing up with foul smelling water and several areas of wall were coated in mould.”

“A Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice has the effect of immediately closing a food business and is only served when there is an imminent risk to the health of people consuming food which has handled, prepared, processed or stored on the premises…The premises were subsequently allowed to reopen on 19 June, when it was determined that the risk to health no longer existed as conditions had improved, [and] the premises continue to be subject to regular visits to ensure continued improvement to full compliance with food safety regulations.”

Tony Dong, owner of The Sea Star, said he accepted why the council had to act with a closure, and then proceeded to blame a lack of fans for the mould, and poor staff cleaning for the build up of mice dropping on the floor.

“Things are much better now. We spoke to all the staff about cleaning and it is done every day now, which also makes it much easier. It wasn’t done properly before, but we spoke to all the staff and it’s so much better now.”

“We had a mice problem too, but the man from the pest control came and that has been sorted, and we are speaking to the council.

Councillor Robert Aldridge, Environment Leader, said it was important that restaurant bosses knew the council would act when necessary,

“Thanks to the hard work shown by our Community Safety staff in bringing about this emergency notice, we can send out a clear message to all food business operators that they must adhere to food hygiene requirements or face the consequences.”

It all sounds like a slap on the wrist for an establishment knowingly producing food under unsanitary conditions. Where’s the public shaming of this restaurant? Slap a big “Fail” The Star Sea’s door, and hit Mr. Dong with a nasty fine.