By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter
A popular mini market in Lower Morden has reopened after the council issued its immediate closure on hygiene grounds.
Grand Fresh Market, which sells everything from rice to fresh fruit, was closed immediately following an inspection by the food hygiene standard body on December 12.
Merton Council’s food hygiene inspectors discovered an active rat infestation and contaminated foodstuffs following a tip-off from a customer who had recently spotted the vermin during a shopping trip.
Inspectors found that rats had inhabited areas near fresh and tinned food, with clear evidence of droppings being found on a number of products. According to the council, the rats targeted lentils, biscuits, and tea bags in particular.
Merton deemed the situation so severe it posed an imminent risk to public health. Once a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice was served, the premises on Grand Drive were closed until further notice. The Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order was awarded during a hearing at Wimbledon Magistrates Court on December 19.
The store has been allowed to reopen as Merton’s environmental health team is now satisfied the issues have been rectified. However, despite the recent closure, the South London council was first made aware of the shop’s hygiene issues back in March 2022 when Food Hygiene inspectors said ‘major improvement was necessary.
This previous inspection, which awarded the shop a one out of five hygiene rating on March 9, 2022, means that Merton council was aware of issues at the property for almost two years.
In response a spokesperson from Merton council added: “We regularly inspect food businesses and the last routine food hygiene inspection was carried out on 07/02/2023, no rats were seen inside the premises during this visit.”
Councillor Eleanor Stringer, Cabinet Member for Civic Pride told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Rogue premises such as these cannot be tolerated. We’re grateful to members of the public who report substandard or unhygienic businesses to the Council, so we can swiftly address any risk to public health.”
(Local Democracy Reporting Service)