A Chinese takeaway was ordered to shut down after two live mice were found in a box of noodles.
Environmental health inspectors found the rodents in a gnawed box of dried noodles in the store room of the Dragon Palace Chinese Takeaway on London Road in Westcliff, Southend, Essex.
They also found mice droppings "throughout the premises" and two dead mice on the floor, a spokesman for Southend Council said.
Officers discovered that staff were not washing their hands and anti-bacterial cleaning liquids - although present - were not being used for cleaning.
The council's lead food officer Steve Ramm said: "Mice not only pass on harmful bacteria when gnawing food but they also urinate very regularly so work surfaces and the hands of staff also become contaminated.
"Bacteria therefore will pass from the insides of mice to the insides of humans which clearly is an unacceptable risk to public health."
The council spokesman said that at a hearing at Southend Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, the takeaway was ordered to close.
A spokesman for Southend-on-Sea Borough Council said the last routine inspection in December 2009 revealed problems with pest control and the management of safe food preparation.
The restaurant owners were sent detailed written advice and received several hours of training but failed to meet hygiene standards when they were visited last week.
Southend Council has yet to decide whether to instigate criminal proceedings over the inspection findings.