A "SHOCKING" bakery was closed to protect the public when it was found to be infested by mice.

DEad vermin, droppings and gnawed bags of flour were found throughout Costco bakery in Shadbolt Avenue, Chingford,

Dirty containers and bins were also discovered by the council officers at the branch, which is part of a national chain.

They were so disturbed by what they found they immediately sought an emergency court order to close the business on November 19.

Cabinet member for environment, Cllr Clyde Loakes, described the state of the shops as "shocking".

He added: "There is absolutely no excuse for anybody whose business it is to prepare food to allow vermin free reign of their premises in this way.

"Surely a firm with the resources of Costco can afford to take the necessary measures to keep their bakery clean and secure from infestation.

"I am sure many local residents will be feeling thoroughly sick to their stomachs at the thought of having bought baked goods from Costco in the past."

The branch reopened a week after the closure after satisfying environmental health officers that it had eliminated risks to public health.

Costco replaced the large bins with smaller bins, threw away all contaminated products and ingredients and carried out an intensive clean to rid the bakery of mice.

They have also proofed the store to ensure the mice cannot return, ensuring the council allowed the shop to reopen.

A spokeswoman for the firm said: "Costco strives to have high standards and it was with regret that the circumstances at the Chingford bakery arose.

"We worked with the council to quickly address the problems they had brought to our attention and on Monday, November 26, we were in a position to reopen the affected area with the full approval of the council.

"There is currently no risk to public health and there has been no reports that anyone was adversely affected by the incident."