A TAKEAWAY has been ordered to close after evidence of a rat infestation was discovered.

College Pizza on College Square in Stokesley was shut down on Tuesday, November 7 by food hygiene inspectors after they concluded there was a “widespread rat infestation in the kitchen”.

Environmental health officers with Hambleton District Council also found “very poor standards of cleanliness and other breaches of food hygiene laws”.

They described the conditions as being an “imminent risk of injury to the health of the takeaway's customers” and used emergency powers to close down the premises.

Three days later, on November 10, Northallerton Magistrates granted the council a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order, to keep the business closed until officers were satisfied it no longer presented a health risk.

Paul Staines, director of Leisure and Environment at the council said: “The closure of food businesses in Hambleton is rare. However, protecting consumers is our top priority.

"We only take this action when it is absolutely necessary - and in premises where we find that food is being stored, prepared and served in unhygienic conditions.”

College Pizza’s Owner, Mr Alireza Ansari, did not appeal against the council’s enforcement decision.

Hambleton councillor Stephen Watson, portfolio holder for Environmental Health, Waste and Recycling, said customers should look out for green and black window stickers on any premises which sell or serve food, which state the businesses' food hygiene rating.

"The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme encourages businesses to achieve and maintain good standards," he said.

“The vast majority of food businesses in Hambleton have achieved the top hygiene rating of five for very good standards of hygiene, and - with the advice and support that is available from the council to help businesses comply with food laws - there really is no excuse for poor standards.

“Unfortunately, sometimes officers do discover poor standards of hygiene and are duty bound to take appropriate steps to protect public health.”