A Belfast city centre bakery has been ordered to halt trading because of an alleged rat infestation.
Emergency prohibition proceedings were granted against Ann’s Pantry yesterday after a judge was told of an imminent risk to public health and safety.
An environmental health officer with Belfast City Council, which took the action, said she went to the shop at Queen’s Arcade when problems were discovered last Thursday.
She claimed evidence was found of a rodent infestation throughout the bakery, including store rooms and the kitchen area.
The officer told Belfast Magistrates’ Court: “We did see dead and live rats on the premises.” District Judge Ken Nixon heard how the owner agreed to close voluntarily, with the authorities still not satisfied the business was fit to re-open when they returned the next day.
However, after allegedly agreeing to remain shut on Saturday, a further visit later that day revealed the premises was open again, the court was told.
“At that time we looked around the premises and we were unhappy with the situation. We were satisfied there was an imminent risk to health,” the officer said.
Contamination of surfaces and equipment was allegedly detected, she added.
Although the owner did attempt to make the bakery pest-proof, it was claimed these steps were inadequate.
He was notified of the intention to seek an emergency injunction but did not attend the hearing.
Granting the application, Mr Nixon said: “I have heard the evidence from the witness in this case.
“I have read the papers and I have looked at photographs. The emergency prohibition order has now been made.”
His ruling was made as display benches and other equipment was being removed from the premises.
The district judge, who confirmed an appeal could be made, also granted a condemnation order for eggs seized with a best-before of April.