Q: I run a gastro pub and received a visit today from my local Environmental Health Officer. He said he had had a complaint relating to the sighting of a rat in the premises. He inspected the kitchen and says he has found some rat droppings and has asked me to close the kitchen. What should I do?
A: Assuming that there is evidence of rats it is probably a better idea to voluntarily close the kitchen than have him obtain an order from the Court. You then need to concentrate on engaging the services of a pest controller to deal with the problem. This will undoubtedly involve a deep clean as well as perhaps some actual proofing of the premises to ensure that the problem does not re-occur. You may find that even if the EHO is satisfied and allows you to re-open that you are subsequently asked to attend an interview under caution so that they can investigate the reasons why the problem arose in the first place. Even if the kitchen has re-opened you can still be separately prosecuted for what happened before and it is imperative that you obtain legal advice. Whilst temporary closure of the kitchen is damaging for the business the adverse publicity of a prosecution could be even worse.
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