Court: Tesco store 'had rodent problem for months'

EVIDENCE of a rodent infestation was noticeable at a Tesco store two months before the problem was dealt with, a court has heard.

Tom Potter

EVIDENCE of a rodent infestation was noticeable at a Tesco store two months before the problem was dealt with, a court has heard.

A manager at the Extra outlet, in Martlesham Heath, yesterday told South East Suffolk Magistrate's Court that staff cleaning procedures were still not being sufficiently met when she was handed a “nibbled item of clothing” by an employee.

Rosie Smith carried out regular cleaning audits in her position as compliance manager at the store, overseeing the companies 'clean as you go' policy, which encourages staff to tidy the shop floor during working hours.

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She said her overall opinion of cleanliness at the store was good, despite on three consecutive weeks, during May 2007, reporting concerns about the cleanliness of different areas of the building. “It came to the third week and I was still concerned and ordered a deep clean of the bakery,” she said.

But evidence of mice had been recorded by pest controllers Rentokil in a report seen by Mrs Smith as early as March - two weeks before she was shown the item of clothing with bite marks on it.

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She told prosecutor Geoffrey Stephenson how staff were still not properly operating the 'clean as you go' procedure by May 18 and that kick-plates had yet to be removed from store fixtures to allow outside cleaning contractors to adequately remove food debris.

The court also heard from Savvas Othon, appointed technical director of Rentokil in April that year, who called Tesco's contract requirement one of the strictest his company adhered to, adding that his team were doing a good job of controlling the infestation when he visited the store at the end of June.

At that point Mr Othon requested operations be stepped up by laying ultraviolet tracking dust and exposing the mice to a toxic contact poison. “I was happy with the way the work was being done,” he said. “I was pleased that the initiative had been taken to employ other control methods before I had even got there.”

Tesco denies eight charges brought by Suffolk Coastal District Council after it received reports of mice running through the store, including having inadequate environmental health procedures and failing to 'pest proof' the building.

The trial continues.

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