If you feel an extra crunch in your popcorn at the Trafford Centre Odeon, you may want to make sure you aren’t getting more than you paid for.
Because although you should never turn your nose up at a freebie, that extra portion of protein may just be one of the hundreds of German cockroaches that have invaded the cinema in March.
And shockingly, it has emerged that complaints sent to Trafford Council’s environmental health team in August were dismissed.
Pest teams were still working at the venue to combat the infestation at the end of October.
A disgusted member of the public wrote to the council after seeing cockroaches crawling in the ice cream, popcorn and hot-food areas of the cinema, which was only given a one-star hygiene rating by the Food Standards Agency.
The concerned member of the public reported making ‘several complaints’ to the duty managers of the cinema, which were ignored, and was informed by staff that they had received no food hygiene training.
“Despite several complains to the duty managers it appears no action is being taken,” the email read.
“I have seen cockroaches in the ice cream area as well as the main popcorn and hot food serving areas.
“One member of staff I spoke to, who was serving hotdogs, told me she had never had any food hygiene training, and was not aware if any other staff are trained
“This has to be a clear breach of environmental standards as well as a serious health risk to customers who visit the cinema, including children.”
Shockingly, council staff dismissed the customer’s complaint, saying a subsequent inspection ‘did not reveal any activity’.
However, they were forced to backtrack, following a sickening discovery of over 200 of the roaches ‘in traps near the hot food counter’ two weeks later.
After conducting a follow-up inspection, the council’s hygiene team told managers at the cinema to take ‘immediate action’ to rectify the issue.
The cinema was also issued a one out of five food hygiene rating by inspectors.
In an email to the Odeon’s manager in early September, a Trafford Council environmental health officer said they were ‘very disappointed with conditions’ at the cinema.
“In order for me to deem that the infestation is being adequately controlled, I need to be confident that the staff at the site are taking the necessary steps,” they said.
“Areas are not being cleaned despite there being a procedure in place.
“Of greater concern is the fact that, as of yesterday, no sanitising was taking place prior to starting food handling.”
Inspector’s orders included telling staff to begin conducting basic food-serving practices, such as staff washing their hands, and sanitising kitchen-tops and food-serving equipment.
But although inspectors threatened to close the kitchen area, it remained open to the public throughout the infestation, with a private pest control team brought in to conduct a deep cleanse of the premises, and regular inspections from the private pest controllers taking place until the end of October.
An Odeon spokesperson said: “We’ve been working with independent specialists and the local authorities to rectify a historic pest situation in a limited area of sealed under-counter space in our Trafford Centre cinema.
“Our actions are working and the situation was resolved as quickly as possible.
“A visit by the authorities this week has indicated that a four star hygiene rating will be awarded, and we are grateful to them for recognising the big improvements that we’ve made.
“A series of stringent procedures are in place to ensure we retain the highest standards as guest hygiene is our absolute priority.”
A spokesperson for the Trafford Centre said: “We are aware of a historic pest control issue at the Odeon Cinema.
“At the time of the issue we were in communication with the cinema who worked closely with the relevant authorities to resolve the situation.
“At no time did this pose a risk to visitor’s health or safety.
“While we are still monitoring the situation, we can confirm there are no reports of any pest activity from adjoining tenants or landlord areas.
“The health and safety of our visitors and staff is our number one priority and we take these matters seriously.”
Note: Image used is stock photography not a picture of the Trafford Centre ODEON.
Image courtesy of lonniencartist, via Youube, with thanks