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Poundworld receives record fine for mice infestations in Slough store

The highest fine for food hygiene offences in Slough’s history has been handed to Poundworld, which had infestations of mice in its shop in the Queensmere Observatory Shopping Centre.

Poundworld Retail Limited has been ordered to pay a fine of £350,000 for failing to protect food against contamination and costs of £2,923 were awarded to Slough Borough Council (SBC).

The council’s food and safety team initially issued Poundworld with a caution in March 2017 following a mouse infestation in October 2016.

The store then closed voluntarily to address the problem and the council provided support and advice on how to deal with the issue.

Following a second caution, a senior environmental officer visited the premises in May 2017 to follow up on a complaint from a member of the public about mice.

The officer discovered bags of pork scratchings on sale, which were damaged by mice and had been contaminated by mouse urine and droppings.

SBC attended a hearing at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Friday, August 3 which resulted in the retailer’s sentence. Poundworld did not attend.

The judge considered the size of the organisation, similar previous convictions and cautions and a lack of appropriate systems in place before imposing the sentence.

The shop has closed after the company went into administration in June.

SBC cabinet member for regulation and consumer protection Councillor Pavitar Mann (Lab, Britwell and Northborough) said: “Our food and safety team work closely with local businesses, providing the support they need to improve their standards of food hygiene.

“If retailers do not raise their standards and continue to perform poorly, we have no choice but to take action to protect the public from risk, including taking persistent offenders to court.

“Despite our support and advice, Poundworld continued to perform poorly, posing a potential threat to the health of the public.

“I dread to think how many people may have bought contaminated food from this store and hopefully this large fine will serve as a warning to other businesses in Slough thinking of ignoring food hygiene regulations.”

Contact foodandsafety@slough.gov.uk to report concerns about food safety and hygiene.

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