Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) was ordered to pay out almost £19,000 today after a cockroach was found eating a chip in one of the busiest branches in Britain.
The insect was seen on a food dispensing counter near takeaway boxes and tongs used to serve chicken by an environmental health officer in a restaurant in London's West End.
City of Westminster Magistrates' Court heard that, during an inspection at the Leicester Square branch, the officer also saw a mouse, flies and dried chicken blood on the floor.
The Westminster City Council inspector also said there was no hand wash in dispensers in the food preparation area.
"There was no soap in the ground-floor food preparation room so, on the day of the inspection at least, it was not possible for food preparation staff to wash their hands properly," said Michael Goodwin, prosecuting.
The fast food giant admitted breaching five hygiene rules after the inspection in August 2008.
Mr Goodwin said that, four months prior to the inspection, the branch received a "specific warning" from the council voicing concerns about hygiene practices.
David Whiting, mitigating, said the company took the inspection "very seriously".
"KFC accepts the condition that has been described to you," he said.
"They fell below their own high standards and below legal standards."
Mr Whiting said that, since the inspection, the outside contractor employed to deal with pest control problems has had its hire agreement with KFC terminated across the UK.
Mr Whiting added that, on the day of inspection, an employee had simply forgotten to refill the soap in the dispensers in the preparation room and there were still places where hands could be washed.
The Coventry Street outlet, which employs 65 people and operates from 10am to 3am, has since undergone a £600,000 refurbishment.
Mr Whiting said that, each day, 1,600 transactions were completed and more than 1,000lb of fries sold in the branch, which is based over four floors and seats 100 people.
At a hearing in April, the firm, based in Woking, Surrey, pleaded guilty to failure to keep the premises clean, not keeping the building maintained and in good repair and not having adequate procedures in place to prevent pest control.
It also admitted failure to ensure that the layout, design and construction permitted good food hygiene practices and failure to ensure that materials for cleaning hands were available at hand basins.
District Judge Howard Riddle today fined the food chain £11,000 for the five offences. He also ordered it to pay £7,927.80 in costs and a victim surcharge of £15.
Outside court, Daniel Astaire, Westminster City Council's cabinet member for community safety, said: "The standards of hygiene at this restaurant were appalling and simply unacceptable.
"A fast food chain of the size and stature of KFC should know better, and I am amazed their head office allowed such an important flagship restaurant to decline to these low levels.
"The restaurant industry is a vital part of our economy, and we will not tolerate any behaviour which could jeopardise it or the safety of our millions of visitors.
"I hope this case sends a clear signal that we will take firm action against any restaurant which puts the health of its diners at risk."
A spokeswoman for the council said there were "no further issues" with the branch.Reuse content