A POPULAR restaurant has been ordered to pay more than £17,000 after it was infested with rats.

Tiffins Tandoori in Abingdon was prosecuted by Vale of White Horse District Council for five offences under the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations at Oxford Magistrates’ court last month.

The defendants pleaded guilty to all five offences and were ordered by magistrates to pay £3,000 for each charge and costs of £2,211.26 and a victim surcharge of £181.

Environmental health officers from the council carried out an unannounced routine food hygiene inspection last October.

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During the inspection, officers found evidence of a rat infestation in both inside and outside food and equipment storage areas.

Rat droppings were found on equipment, including a frying pan, while there was also gnawed food and gnawed food packaging.

There was also a large hole which had been created by the rats in the a food store room.

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Officers subsequently served a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice, which prevented the Bath Street restaurant from using the storage areas.

The restaurant was allowed to reopen on October 16, 12 days after the inspection, as remedial work had removed the health risk.

Since then, the restaurant has carried out work costing £25,000, which has been described as ‘significant and above what was required’.

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Jenny Hannaby, cabinet member for housing and environment at the Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “The council’s food safety officers have an important role protecting people’s health. They are rigorous and diligent in their work making sure businesses which serve food keep to high hygiene standards.

“When firms fail to meet these standards, as in this case, officers will take immediate action. I am pleased to hear that the restaurant has now worked hard to improve food hygiene levels and its food safety for its customers.”

Speaking last October, at the time of the infestation, staff member Abdur Rahman Hasan said the problem had been confined to the upper level of the building.

The restaurant appeared at magistrates’ court on July 17.