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Food hygiene ratings: The four Hackney restaurants where pest infestations led to zero-star scores in 2016/17

PUBLISHED: 10:57 13 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:37 13 October 2017

A file image of Stokey Bears in Stoke Newington. Picture: Ken Mears

A file image of Stokey Bears in Stoke Newington. Picture: Ken Mears

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Mice and cockroaches have blighted four Hackney restaurants over the last 18 months, council papers reveal.

Head chef Joseph Carvell in the kitchen at Stokey Bears. The restaurant now has a four-star rating and is under new management. Picture: Ken MearsHead chef Joseph Carvell in the kitchen at Stokey Bears. The restaurant now has a four-star rating and is under new management. Picture: Ken Mears

Results from a Freedom of Information request have uncovered the reasons for nine restaurants’ zero star hygiene ratings. They were given these scores after visits from Hackney Council’s environmental health inspectors.

The inspectors were working on behalf of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and employed its star ratings system, awarding a maximum of five to the cleanest eateries. This is based on the condition of the premises – which includes its cleanliness, layout, lighting and ventilation – and the way the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe.

Stokey Bears in Stoke Newington High Street was one of the four to have had a mouse infestation. A report dated June 30, 2016, states a “mouse infestation [was] found”. The inspector speculated that there “may be some [mice] in the kitchen” but there was “too much food debris to tell”. Thorough cleaning of the kitchen, bars, store, outside areas and of all the food contact surfaces was recommended.

"The restaurant is very clean now. I know it took a few months"

Oliver Sharman, Stokey Bears

The restaurant has since had a change of management and its food hygiene rating upgraded to four stars.

Oliver Sharman, Stokey Bears’s assistant manager, believes that the necessary steps have been taken to prevent another mouse infestation and is confident that the restaurant will receive a five-star rating when it is next inspected.

“The restaurant is very clean now,” he said. “I know it took a few months [to get rid of the mouse infestation].

Viet Grill in Kingsland Road, pictured in October 2016. Picture: Google StreetViewViet Grill in Kingsland Road, pictured in October 2016. Picture: Google StreetView

“We have a contract with Rentokil, so they come round once a month to deal with [the] mouse traps. We haven’t actually found any bodies the last few occasions they’ve been here. [When I first came here] we were finding one or two bodies – not loads, it wasn’t a proper infestation.”

He added: “We’ve got our rating up to a four. If they [the inspectors] come in again we’ll be expecting a five.”

During an inspection on November 14, 2016, “evidence of mice and German cockroaches” was found at Viet Grill. Mouse droppings were found in the kitchen, a cockroach egg in the basement and a live cockroach elsewhere on the premises. The Kingsland Road restaurant had its hygiene rating upgraded to three stars earlier this year.

Il Bacio Express in Stoke Newington Church Street, pictured in 2014. Picture: Google StreetViewIl Bacio Express in Stoke Newington Church Street, pictured in 2014. Picture: Google StreetView

Of the four restaurants to have had pest infestations, two were closed by the council – Ikigai Sushi and Il Bacio Express.

The former was closed following the discovery of a “significant mouse infestation” on January 25. Live mice, dead mice, droppings and a German cockroach were reportedly found by the inspector. During a follow-up inspection five days later the problems persisted and the restaurant was required to remove droppings, and pest-proof and disinfect the floors and surfaces.

Ikigai Sushi later reopened and its manager, Mir Hossain, believes the problems are now “over”.

"We did the building jobs, we closed the holes [and] we were speaking to the neighbours because they were coming through the sides as well. We are looking after the property better"

Manager, Il Bacio Express

“We worked with Hackney Council,” he said, “[and] they guided us [through the process to] solve this issue. We [now] have frequent visits from the pest controllers.

“At the moment our rating is three [and] we want to improve more.”

Il Bacio Express in Stoke Newington Church Street was closed and served an emergency prohibition after “extensive droppings” were found “throughout [the] premises” in August 2016. The inspector noted that Rentokil, the restaurant’s pest controller, had told Il Bacio Express to clean mouse droppings and food debris on its last six visits.

"We worked with Hackney Council. They guided us [through the process to] solve this issue. We [now] have frequent visits from the pest controllers"

Mir Hossain, Ikigai Sushi

The eatery has reopened and received a five-star hygiene rating in February.

Its manager, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “We had some problems [but] we sorted them out. The same inspector came again and she gave us five stars, so the problem is sorted.

“We did the building jobs, we closed the holes [and] we were speaking to the neighbours because they were coming through the sides as well. We are looking after the property better [now].”

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