McDonald’s fined £500,000 after customer finds mouse droppings in cheeseburger

Authorities uncover infestation that posed an ‘imminent risk’ to public health at branch in east London

Matt Mathers
Wednesday 03 May 2023 16:19 BST
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A McDonald’s branch was fined £500,000 after a customer’s complaint about finding mouse droppings in their cheeseburger uncovered an infestation that posed an “imminent risk” to public health.

The customer, who has not been named, discovered the dropping on the inside of the burger wrapper after ordering at the drive-thru in Leytonstone, east London.

It prompted an investigation by environmental health officers who discovered an out-of-control rodent infestation at the restaurant and forced it to close the same day, with some customers thrown out of the restaurant halfway through their meals.

Mouse droppings were found on the floor and in food prep areas (SWNS)

During the October 2021 visit, officers found the “decomposing remains” of a mouse as well as droppings “throughout the premises” - including in food preparation areas, main cooking areas and hot food holding areas.

The fast-food giant was hauled into court this week by Waltham Forest Council after pleading guilty to three charges relating to hygiene breaches and ordered to pay half a million pounds in fines and costs.

The customer was said to have been “halfway through” eating their burger when they looked down at the inside of the food wrapper and spotted what they thought was a mouse dropping.

They then complained to Waltham Forest Council, which sent environmental health officers to investigate the Leytonstone restaurant - which retains a 1.5-star rating on Trip Advisor.

The officers discovered conditions at the restaurant which presented “a real and imminent risk” to the health of customers eating there and immediately ordered the restaurant to close - with those sat eating asked to leave halfway through their meals.

Decomposing remains of a dead mouse and droppings spread across various areas of the restaurant were found by the health officers who inspected the site.

During the October 2021 visit, officers found the ‘decomposing remains’ of a mouse (SWNS)

Droppings were also found on the floor of the food preparation and main cooking section; in the main cooking area next to a tray of cooking utensils; in the hot holding food preparation area on the main floor; in the staff room; in a storage area and cleaning store cupboard, and even in a box containing a bottle of caramel drizzle drink sauce.

The hygiene conditions were discovered despite staff having completed paperwork claiming that cleaning schedules had been completed, and officers also found several areas in the kitchen to be “dirty, greasy and dusty”.

The McDonald’s restaurant - of which there are another 1,299 across the UK - remained shut for a period of ten days before officers revisited and were satisfied all issues were resolved and that the restaurant could reopen.

Several areas in the kitchen were found to be “dirty, greasy and dusty” (Waltham Forest Council / SWNS)

But Waltham Forest Council, which is responsible for the restaurant’s food hygiene rating, took legal action against the fast-food giant for the “significant risk” the conditions of the restaurant posed to its customers.

McDonald’s admitted to three charges of hygiene breaches and was ordered to pay a £475,000 fine and £22,000 costs by magistrates at Thames Magistrates’ Court.

Councillor Khevyn Limbajee, Waltham Forest Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said customers should be made to feel confident that their food has been cooked and prepared in a clean and safe environment.

Cllr Limbajee said: "There was a significant risk posed to the health of residents and visitors to Waltham Forest and as such the council had no option but to take formal action in this case.

“As a council we take food hygiene seriously and won’t hesitate to follow up complaints and take action where appropriate, irrespective of who operates the food business.”

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