Staff at an Oxford service station hit by a cockroach infestation have been told not to mention the outbreak to customers.

The M40 Welcome Break services on Thame Road were visited by South Oxfordshire Environmental Health Officers on Monday, May 20.

This was after a motorist complained to them after visiting the service station at junction 8a near Wheatley.

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The Welcome Break services were inspected last month.The Welcome Break services were inspected last month. (Image: Newsquest)

During their investigation, officers found evidence of a cockroach infestation in the food preparation and servery areas of three outlets. 

KFC, The Good Breakfast/Chopstix and Starbucks were all since closed after a significant risk of food contamination and an imminent risk to the customers’ health was posed.

An anonymous member of Welcome Break staff told the Oxford Mail on Tuesday afternoon (June 11) that they had been told not to reveal the reason for the closure to customers. 

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“It has been less busy since the stores closed,” revealed the staff member.

“Today has been quite quiet and people are asking why the stores have been shut, and I have been asked about this by customers. 

“I’m not allowed to say the reason why but I have to say there’s refurbishing, that’s all.

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Starbucks closed after the inspection.Starbucks closed after the inspection. (Image: Newsquest)

“Burger King is still open and I believe they [the council’s hygiene inspectors] checked there.”

A Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice was placed on the service station on Monday, May 20, meaning the impacted units at the site had to close immediately.

Subway also closed and has remained shut since despite the store not being part of the criminal investigation into the other three aforementioned eateries.

South Oxfordshire District Council explained why this was the case and confirmed that all of the concerned units are still closed down.

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Cockroaches were found at the service station (stock photo).Cockroaches were found at the service station (stock photo). (Image: Pexels)

A spokesperson for the council said: “The three businesses are still closed and will remain so until officers are satisfied that there's no longer a risk to public health.

“Subway was not included as part of the Hygiene Prohibition Notice because on the day our officers carried out the emergency investigation there was insufficient evidence of an imminent risk to health to warrant the closure of that unit.

“Welcome Break however took the decision to close it themselves the following day as part of their own investigation and addressing of the issues.

“Our criminal investigation is ongoing.” 

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The Welcome Break services can be found near Wheatley.The Welcome Break services can be found near Wheatley. (Image: Newsquest)

On Friday, May 31, during a hearing at Oxford Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Rana confirmed the imminent health risk on May 20.

The judge then made a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order and also awarded full costs of just over £3,000 to South Oxfordshire District Council.

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