Manchester council took FOUR MONTHS to deal with mouse infestation and ‘fresh droppings’ in school kitchen

Council staff at a Manchester primary school failed to deal with a mouse infestation until after food hygiene inspectors said the kitchen ‘required major improvement’, an FOI has revealed.

Local authority controlled St James’ Church of England Primary School in Rusholme received a rating of just one out of five from hygiene inspectors when it was inspected in July.

Twenty children under the age of five were served food from the primary school’s mouse infested canteen, which provides catering for 180 children in total.

And droppings were found at sites around the school, including the main kitchen, store rooms and the art cupboard.

A report published after the inspection said staff were ‘aware of mouse droppings’ but failed to take action on the infestation, with ‘poor controls in place’ to protect food.  

An interim inspection took place at the school in September to ensure staff had acted on inspectors’ pest control and food safety recommendations.

But despite the infestation being reported by inspectors in July, and being known to kitchen staff before that time, the school only saw fit to inform parents about the problem via a letter in November, after a full follow-up inspection had taken place.

A full inspection on November 2 updated the school’s rating from one to four out of five.

Head teacher Gavin Shortall said: “The hygiene issues were very quickly addressed.

“I am delighted to say that the kitchen has been reinspected and received a score of 4 out of 5, a grading of good.”

Catering services at the school are provided by Manchester City Council’s ‘Manchester Fayre’ catering service, which provides catering services to 117 schools across the city.

The catering service is popular with parents. The number of children having school meals in Manchester Fayre primary schools is 20% higher than the national average.

A spokesperson for Manchester Fayre said: “At the time of the inspection kitchen staff were aware of a pest problem that was already being actively dealt with. 

“Despite this on the day of the inspection there was some evidence of fresh mouse droppings. 

“It was acknowledged by inspectors that appropriate action was in place to deal with the issue and that the kitchens could therefore remain open until they were re-inspected.”

MM asked both the council and the school to comment on why staff failed to address the infestation before the inspection and why parents were not informed until November, but they declined to address either issue.

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