During a visit on 16 January last year, environmental health officers found rat droppings throughout both floors of the building, plus evidence of gnawed food and packaging.
Inspectors also found that cleaning at the premises was poor, and discovered yogurt past its use-by date.
A Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice, a schedule of work necessary to be carried out to remove imminent risk of injury to health and an application for a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order were served on East End Foods.
The premises was revisited twice on 19 and 23 January 2017 and was allowed to reopen after inspectors were satisfied that the company had taken steps to improve conditions at the warehouse. The site has since closed.
East End Foods pleaded guilty to three offences under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 during a hearing at Birmingham Magistrates Court on 4 January this year.
The offences included a failure to put adequate procedures in place to control pests and a failure to ensure food premises were kept clean and maintained in good repair and condition.
The company had also failed to ensure that at all stages of production, processing and the distribution of food were protected against contamination, which was likely to render the food unfit for human consumption.
East End Foods was fined £180,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,453.30, plus a £170 victim surcharge, at Birmingham Magistrates Court on 1 March 2018.
‘Not in accordance with usual standards’
An East End Foods spokesman said: “The company regrets that the conditions at the former wholesale unit were not in accordance with its usual high standards. The company has fully cooperated with the Council.
“The case did not concern any of the company’s food processing facilities, which continue to operate to the very highest standards of quality and cleanliness.”
A rat infestation also forced sandwich manufacturer CK Foods in Bedale, North Yorkshire – trading as Country Kitchens – to close part of its factory for three days last month.
Meanwhile, food manufacturers face a new generation of mutant rats resistant to conventional poison, according to the British Pest Control Association.