A FOOD takeaway store has been shut down by the courts over what is being described as a ‘serious rat infestation’.

Dixi Chicken and Pizza, on Victoria Road in Widnes, has been closed by environmental health officers from Halton Borough Council following the discovery of a serious rat infestation.

The premises is shared by Cream Curls, a dessert and ice cream business, which is also closed.

Officers carried out an inspection on Monday, January 22, following a complaint from a member of the public that they had seen a rat on the premises.

On entering, officers noted a distinctive smell of rat urine, and rat faeces was sighted in the customer waiting area for Cream Curls.

Cleaning was found to be poor, with rat faeces contaminating many areas of the food premises.

Food had been left uncovered and internal waste bins had not been emptied. Waste food littered the floor, providing a food source for rats.

A council spokesman said: “Rats can carry a number of disease-causing organisms that can contaminate food and food contact surfaces.

“Officers were satisfied the premises posed an imminent risk of injury to health and used emergency powers to close the premises immediately.”

On Tuesday, the council successfully applied to Warrington Magistrates’ Court for a prohibition order, closing the premises indefinitely until the infestation has been cleared and the premises no longer poses a risk to health.

The spokesman added: “Officers found the premises to be in a very poor state, with an active rat infestation and a complete breakdown in the basic food hygiene measures that need to be in place to protect consumers.

“The council will need to be reassured that the infestation has been resolved and the risk to health removed before the premises will be allowed to reopen.

“The vast majority of Halton’s food premises comply with their legal responsibilities, with 96 per cent achieving the top three hygiene ratings.

“However, the council will not hesitate to deal robustly with those premises that pose a risk to consumers.”