HEALTH inspectors found rat droppings littered on food at a town centre wholesaler.

Now, Melisa Foods on Aylesbury Street, has been forced to close after environmental health inspectors discovered evidence the business was infested with rats.

Magistrates have signed off a hygiene emergency prohibition notice, ordering business owner Memet Edicki keeps the premises shut until he has been able to address the rat problems

Swindon Borough Council brought the prosecution after twice visiting the wholesaler after an emergency prohibition notice demanding improvements was served following an inspection on January 28.

Inspectors found damaged food packaging, paperwork gnawed by rats and teeth marks on boxes of carrier bags that would have been used by customers for ready-to-eat food.

The council claimed there was evidence of nesting material and rat droppings were found on food, underneath shelving and inside a filing cabinet.

Coun Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “It is cases like this which highlight the importance of the Council’s food hygiene team. Had our officers not carried out this routine inspection, this business would have carried on operating and ultimately putting people’s health at risk.

“We have a duty to protect residents and, while this is a rare case which does not reflect the majority of hard-working food businesses in Swindon, I hope it gives the public some reassurance that we take public safety and food hygiene very seriously indeed.”

At court, Melisa Foods owner Memet Edicki apologised for the condition of his shop. He told magistrates he was going to go straight to his premises after the hearing to carry out further work to eradicate the issues.

Edicki will have to demonstrate the health risk is no longer affecting his business before the emergency prohibition order will be lifted. He was ordered to pay £2,000 in costs.