A MIDDLESBROUGH takeaway has been closed after a night-time inspection sparked mouse infestation and hygiene fears.

In an "extremely rare" move Zara's, on Linthorpe Road, was closed immediately after environmental health officers visited it on Thursday, September 3.

During their visit the officers from Middlesbrough Council's public protection service found evidence of mouse activity and poor standards of cleanliness.

On Monday (September 7), the council was granted a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order at Teesside Magistrates’ Court, confirming environmental health officer's actions.

The business now has to stay closed until the council is satisfied that the health-risk conditions have been removed and the premises can be operated hygienically.

Environmental Health Manager Judith Hedgley said: “Food businesses have a legal duty to ensure their premises are free from pests and kept clean and hygienic.

“Failure to properly manage a premises can lead to pests and other conditions that can present a real risk to consumer safety.

“Environmental Health Officers inspect between 500 and 600 food businesses in Middlesbrough every year, and the hygiene standards in the vast majority of these are good.

“The closure of food businesses in Middlesbrough is extremely rare and this immediate action is carried out to protect consumers.

“Due to the conditions found on this occasion it was necessary to order the owner of Zara’s to close their business.

“Once the pest infestation has been removed and the premises thoroughly cleaned, the owner will be able to apply to the Council to reopen.

“Officers will continue to make regular visits to the premises to ensure there is no repeat of the condition found.”

Councillor Julia Rostron, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Adult Health and Social Care, said: “The Council’s Environmental Health Officers carry out important work to make sure the food we buy in Middlesbrough is safe to eat.

“The national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme recognises the hygiene standards achieved by most food outlets.

“Environmental Health Officers award a hygiene rating after every inspection and businesses are given a rating sticker to display on their premises.

“The vast majority of businesses in Middlesbrough have been awarded the highest ratings to make eating out a safe and enjoyable experience.

“Customers should look for the rating sticker before they buy food, or ask for it if they can’t see it.”

No one was available for comment when The Northern Echo called.