A children’s nursery has been fined more than £60,000 after a dead mouse was found in its kitchen.
Positive Steps Children’s Day Nursery, in Shellingford, near Faringdon, pleaded guilty to five food safety offences after an unannounced inspection on May 16 last year.
Vale of White Horse District Council environmental health officers described cleaning in the kitchen as ‘poor’.
Inspectors also discovered rodent faeces throughout the kitchen, including on top of work surfaces by chopping boards, by food and by a baby bottle steriliser.
They noted a lack of routine cleaning and disinfection at the Church Street nursery to minimise the risk of food contamination.
The kitchen was immediately closed as it was posing an ‘imminent’ risk to the staff and children’s health.
Inspectors at a follow-up review three days later were satisfied with improvements and reopened the kitchen.
During sentencing, District Judge Kamlesh Rana said there was a lack of staff training and that the nursery knew there had been a pest control problem for a ‘considerable’ time.
She added that it was ‘fortunate’ there had been no injury to the tots in the nursery’s care.
Cllr Elaine Ware, cabinet member for housing and environment at the Vale, said: “The level of the fine shows how seriously the authorities take severe breaches such as this.
“It was felt that the condition of the kitchen was risking the health of the children and staff at the nursery.
“While we are pleased the nursery responded positively, I hope this case will serve as a reminder to all other organisations, which cater for the public, to ensure their food hygiene standards are not allowed to fall.”
The nursery owners pleaded guilty at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on April 10 to five offences under food safety legislation. It was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,851.05 and a victim surcharge of £170, making it the Vale’s largest fine for a prosecution of this type.