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Starbucks fined £12,000 for mice infestation in cafe visited by Blair


Last updated at 11:30am on 9th November 2006

starbuksmice_228x152.jpgStarbucks: Mouse droppings were found next to spoons, knives, and cups





Coffee giant Starbucks was fined £12,000 after one of its cafes, once visited by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, was infested with mice.

An environment health officer with 17 years experience was hit by a "strong smell of mice" and recurring scenes of filth and mice droppings and stainings during an inspection at a Starbucks in the heart of London's West End in November last year.

Mouse droppings were found next to spoons, knives, cups, clingfilm and boxes of biscuits and coffee that were about to be used, London's City of Westminster magistrates heard.

Westminster Council decided to prosecute after the state of two storerooms and a serving area at the Villiers Street cafe in the arches of Charing Cross station raised alarm.

One mousetrap in a storeroom "appeared to be weighty and may have had a mouse in it" and the rodent had left "greasy smears", Felicia Davy for Westminster Council told the court.

Starbucks, which has more than 530 stores and 8,000 partners in the UK, pleaded guilty to four counts of food safety and hygiene breaches.

Starbucks Coffee Company (UK) Ltd admitted that its Villiers Street cafe had not been kept clean and its food handlers were not adequately supervised or instructed in food hygiene.

It also admitted having inadequate pest control procedures there and that its food had not been properly protected against the risk of contamination.

Phil Broad, managing director of Starbucks Coffee Company (UK) Ltd, listened quietly as Deputy District Judge Paul Southern fined the chain £3,000 for each offence and ordered it to pay £2,832 costs for its "lamentable failure".

He said: "The management fell short of what was required of them. It is quite clear to me there was a lamentable failure by management of Starbucks UK which led to a totally unacceptable state of affairs which in turn led to a complete failure in the obligation to customers that food should be served in a hygienic and safe manner."

Mr Blair and Mr Brown visited the cafe during a charm offensive in November 1999 because it has the kind of employee ownership scheme that the Government wanted to promote.

They had coffee, chatted to staff and Mr Blair even took a turn pouring coffee behind the counter.

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