McDonald's fined nearly £500k after customer found mouse droppings in food wrapper half way through eating burger

3 May 2023, 15:31 | Updated: 3 May 2023, 15:38

McDonald's was fined almost half a million pounds for the hygiene breaches
McDonald's was fined almost half a million pounds for the hygiene breaches. Picture: Google Maps/Waltham Forest

By Will Taylor

McDonald's has been fined £475,000 after a customer found mouse droppings in their meal's wrapper halfway through eating a cheeseburger.

The diner had visited the 24-hour drive through at the outlet in High Road, Leytonstone, East London, when they found the gruesome excrement.

They complained and environmental health officers from Waltham Forest made a series of horrifying discoveries – including the decomposing remains of a mouse.

There were mouse droppings in the main cooking area, including next to a tray of utensils, on the floor of the food preparation area, in the storage area, the cleaning store cupboard and the staff room, and in a box containing a bottle of caramel drizzle drink sauce.

Waltham Forest said the visit in October 2021 found conditions "which presented a real risk to the health of customers using restaurant" and an "imminent risk to health".

The droppings were found despite the restaurant's cleaning schedules having been completed, while parts of the kitchen were found to be greasy, dirty and dusty.

Read more: Customer hits out at Gordon Ramsay restaurant after spending £239 on 'disgusting' meal experience

A decomposed mouse was found in the restaurant
A decomposed mouse was found in the restaurant. Picture: Waltham Forest
Council officers made a series of gruesome discoveries
Council officers made a series of gruesome discoveries. Picture: Waltham Forest

They shut down the restaurant on the spot, with customers asked to leave. It was closed for 10 days before council officers were happy to let it reopen.

McDonald's Restaurant Limited was fined £475,000 and told to pay £22,000 costs at Thames Magistrates' Court after it pleaded guilty to three hygiene breaches.

These related to the cheeseburger wrapper containing mouse dropping, the mouse infestation and poor levels of cleanliness.

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Waltham Forest’s cabinet member for community safety, Cllr Khevyn Limbajee, said: "We are grateful for the quick thinking of the customer in this case for reporting the matter to the council for investigation.

"There was a significant risk posed to the health of residents and visitors to Waltham Forest and as such the Council had no option but to take formal action in this case.”

The McDonald's was shut for 10 days
The McDonald's was shut for 10 days. Picture: Google Maps
Health inspectors shut the restaurant on the spot
Health inspectors shut the restaurant on the spot. Picture: Waltham Forest Council

He said: "McDonald's is a large and well experienced food business operator in the fast-food sector who serves thousands of meals per week to its customers, therefore the risk presented at the Leytonstone store was significant.

"It was appreciated that McDonald’s pleaded guilty and admitted wrongdoing at the first opportunity, however as a council we take food hygiene seriously and won't hesitate to follow up complaints and take action where appropriate, irrespective of who operates the food business.

"Residents and visitors should feel confident and assured that when they check a premises' food hygiene rating in Waltham Forest, they know their food has been cooked in a clean and safe environment and that we take a zero-tolerance approach to serious hygiene contraventions."

A spokesperson for McDonald’s apologised "unreservedly" and said: "We are committed to the highest standards of health, safety, quality and hygiene. In this instance, we fell short of the standards we set ourselves across all our restaurants."