A Swindon grocery shop selling urine-stained flour will remain closed after a rat infestation was found during a food hygiene inspection.

Council officers first visited India Bazzar on Broad Street for a routine inspection on November 2 when the shop was open and serving customers.

They immediately noticed large quantities of rat droppings on the floor and on shelving, and large quantities of food items had been visibly gnawed by the rodents.

A bag of flour found on display was stained with rat urine.

Ready-to-eat foods such as biscuits, pastries, salt and peanuts seemed to have been a particular favourite for the rodents.

Evidence put to Swindon Magistrates' Court also showed that gnawed bags of food had been taped over and placed back on the shelves for sale.

A member of the council’s environmental health team described it as the worst rat infestation she had seen in her 24-year career.

Swindon Advertiser: Rat droppings were found on shelves and food products.Rat droppings were found on shelves and food products. (Image: Swindon Borough Council)

Kumaravelu Muthu, director of India Bazzar Ltd, told council officers he had tried to control the infestation with rat grain bait and block bait, and attempted to fill holes with netting material, but he did not have a pest control contract.

Even when pest controllers were eventually contacted and a five-day treatment plan put in place, council officers still found rats on the last day.

An annual contract has now been arranged and the business is waiting for pest control to attend and undertake checks.

However, India Bazzar has been given a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order and forced to close.

Mr Muthu has been ordered to pay £2,000 to the council, and if he decides to open the business open, he will have to apply in writing and go through rigorous hygiene checks.

Swindon Advertiser: The hygiene inspector had never seen an infestation this severe.The hygiene inspector had never seen an infestation this severe. (Image: Swindon Borough Council)

“Our food hygiene team carries out hundreds of inspections each year and in the vast majority of cases they find businesses are meeting the required standards,” said Councillor Jim Grant, cabinet member for joint working and communities.

“They do, though, come across cases like this from time to time where they need to take immediate action to protect the health and safety of customers.

“This was one of the worst rat infestations our long-standing officer had seen and I am pleased magistrates extended the closure so the owner of the business can get this situation under control and ensure it never happens again.

"It is incredibly important that all businesses have the appropriate pest control checks in place so we do not see situations like this in future.”