Kenya Butchers, West Street

Butchers closed by the Council After Rats Contaminated Meat

  • Butcher's shop closed by Council's Environmental Health team due to extensive rat activity
  • Hygiene inspection revealed rat contamination on products for sale
  • New ownership failed to register with Environmental Health; owners fined £3,020

A TOWN CENTRE butcher’s shop has been shut down by the Council’s environmental health team after evidence of rats was discovered on the premises.

After a tip-off from a concerned member of the public who had spotted rat activity inside Kenya Meats at 20 West Street, Council food safety officers quickly conducted a hygiene inspection visit on 27 February 2024.

Upon arrival, evidence of extensive rat activity was found throughout the premises. It included droppings in all food handling and storage areas, particularly in the butchery and basement.

Droppings found with meat debris

Showing meat debris and fresh rat droppings on it

Officers determined some products on display for sale on a shelf, fresh fruit and vegetables, the meat mincer and the hand-wash basin had all been exposed to rat contamination. The affected stock was subsequently voluntarily surrendered and disposed of by the business.

hand wash station

  Showing rat dropping in the hand wash basin – also blocked by dirt and debris

It further emerged that the business had recently changed ownership, but had failed to properly register with Environmental Health, as is required by law.

Rat droppings beneath meat mincer

Showing rat dropping underneath the meat mincer

Inspecting officers were satisfied that an immediate risk to health was presented by their findings. They issued a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice, formally closing the shop down, and applied to the Magistrates Court to keep the premises closed until the health risk had been removed.

Droppings in dry goods storage

Showing fresh rodent droppings on the dry goods shelving

The case was presented to Reading Magistrates in court on Friday 8 March 2024, and included officer witness statements and photographs from the inspection.

Magistrates agreed that the health risk condition was met in that an imminent risk of injury to health was present due to the condition of the premises on the date of the visit.

They expressed that the images presented in evidence were “self-explanatory” in demonstrating the risk to health posed to customers of Kenya Meats.

The Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order was upheld, and owners of the butchers were handed costs of £3,020, to be paid in three monthly amounts commencing in 28 days.

Cllr Ruth McEwan, Lead Councillor for Education and Public Health, said:

“I’m sure residents would join me in thanking the Council’s Environmental Health officers for their swift and decisive action following the report of rats from the member of the public to quickly stop the imminent risk to health.

“The decision to take action against a local small business is never taken lightly, however, hygiene standards must always be upheld – particularly in food premises. I want to reassure residents that we are constantly inspecting premises to ensure they can be confident the food they buy is safe to eat.

“I’d also like to thank the member of the public for coming forward to us and prompting this inspection visit. Anyone with concerns about the hygiene of a premises, or a complaint about the safety of the food, can report information to:

“If you’re a food business owner, you can find information about running your business safely at:”