NINE food businesses have been served with closure orders in Limerick since January 2015 due to a litany of hygiene problems, the Limerick Voice has learned.
Records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the reasons why so many premises were ordered to shut down food operations until they’d cleaned up their act.
Evidence of insects and rodent droppings throughout the food preparation, storage and first floor seating areas were one of the main reasons Star Pizza on Limerick’s Denmark Street was served with a closure order on April 29, 2015.
Health inspectors noted that “a large hole was gnawed through under the pizza oven in the service area” and that “gnawing was evident on the stairs leading to the basement food storage area”. This order was lifted five months later when the premises was cleaned up.Meanwhile, a defective internal drainage system and rodent activity greeted one health inspector at Chilli Kebabish on Ellen Street. At the time of inspection, waste water from the ground floor kitchen sinks was also seen dripping onto the basement floor. An unpleasant smell was observed. The Health Service Executive (HSE) issued a closure order on May 14, 2015 and it is still in place.
Chilli Kebabish was previously ordered to close in 2012 when an inspector found flies, cigarette butts, dirty fridges with foul odours on the premises.
A lack of pest proofing and a damaged ceiling led to Rockin Joe’s on O’Connell Street, being served with a closure order on July 21, 2015. An inspector noted that “rodent droppings were found in the basement area on the table holding the drinks dispenser”. The closure order was lifted the following day.
A dead rat, exposed blocks of wax rodent bait and a broken manhole cover over a foul drain, were some of the reasons Roma Takeaway on the North Road, Dromcollogher was served with a closure order on September 30, 2015.
An inspector commented that “the floor underneath the cooking line in the rear preparation/storage area of the premises was extremely greasy and poorly maintained”.
This order was lifted a week later after the problems had been addressed.
Evidence of food debris, greasy kitchen floors and insects in the storeroom and food preparation areas were among the reasons Tasty Bites on Hyde Road, Limerick was ordered to close on December 18, 2015.
The inspector required a self-closing fly screen to be fitted in order to control pests as well as “cleaning and disinfection to take place at a frequency sufficient to avoid any risk of contamination”. The closure order was lifted five days later.
Kashmir Kebab on Davis Street was issued with a closure order on May 25 last due to being in a “very unclean and dirty condition”. Problems noted by an inspector included a blood stained meat freezer floor, stained walls and food preparation area, torn up linoleum floor, missing wall tiles and grimy cleaning equipment. The inspector also found dirty kitchen shelves covered in food debris and dead insects.
Concerns were raised over the establishment’s “inadequate temperature controls”. It was noted that “vulnerable foodstuffs were being maintained at elevated temperatures” which can lead to the reproduction of pathogenic micro-organisms or toxins. This order was lifted on June 8 last.
Stained, malodourous and uncovered bins, loose electric cables and a lack of labelling and zoning were among the reasons Fitto Café on Catherine Street was ordered to close on September 9.
An inspector also noted a lack of staff wearing hair coverings when preparing food for customers, and an abundance of flies in the kitchen and preparation areas.
A complete lack of a food safety management system (HACCP) was found to be in operation at the food business. Following corrective action, the closure order was lifted on September 15.
Cobwebs, an accumulation of flies, sticky yellow stained walls and a lack of sanitiser available for cleaning purposes led to CoCo Asian and Chinese Takeaway on Main Street, Ballingarry, Co. Limerick being issued a closure order on October 4 last.
Other problems noted by Inspectors included “chicken defrosting in a sink of stagnant water” and an issue with traceability- “there was a large quantity of unlabelled food noted on the premises”.
This closure order was lifted on October 10 when all the problems had been sorted out.
“Inspections are a public service for the protection and reassurance for consumers”, said a spokesperson for the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
Ireland is legally obliged to have an effective and demonstrable food control system in place. Inspections in food service businesses (restaurants, cafes, etc.) are carried out by the Health Service Executive, under service contract to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
*This article originally appeared in the 2016 edition of the Limerick Voice newspaper.