McDonald’s have been hit with a £475,000 fine after a mouse infestation in one of the fast food chain’s restaurants.

Environmental health officers discovered the rodent infestation after a customer at the restaurant in High Road Leytonstone found droppings in their 24-hour drive-thru order.

The decomposing remains of a mouse and droppings were discovered after Waltham Forest Council subsequently inspected the premises on October 15, 2021.

McDonald’s has now been ordered to pay £475,000, as well as £22,000 in costs, after pleading guilty to three charges of hygiene breaches at Thames Magistrates’ Court.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: The remains of a dead mouse were found during the inspection The remains of a dead mouse were found during the inspection (Image: Waltham Forest Council)

The complaint about the branch was raised after a customer, who was half-way through eating a cheeseburger, noticed what they thought was a mouse dropping on the inside of the wrapper.

Following the discovery of mouse droppings throughout the premises, including in the main cooking area next to a tray of cooking utensils, environmental health officers ordered the restaurant to shut.

Customers were immediately asked to leave the restaurant, as inspectors determined that the premises were so unhygienic, they posed an “imminent risk to health”.

The restaurant remained closed for 10 days, after which it was allowed to re-open following the resolution of the issues identified by council officers.

Cllr Khevyn Limbajee, Waltham Forest Council’s cabinet member for community safety, 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.

He added: “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 McDonald’s spokesperson told the Evening Standard that the company apologised “unreservedly” for the hygiene incident and any upset caused.

They added: “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.”