Search icon


03rd May 2023

McDonald’s fined half a million pounds after customer found mouse droppings in cheeseburger

Steve Hopkins

Health officials ordered customers to leave half-way through their meals

McDonald’s has been fined half a million pounds after a customer’s complaint about finding mouse droppings in their cheeseburger uncovered an “infestation” at one of its restaurants.

The drive-thru customer complained after tucking into their burger and spotting what appeared to be a mouse dropping on the inside of the food wrapper.

An investigation by environmental health officers later discovered an out-of-control rodent infestation at the restaurant which posed an “imminent risk” to public health, and ordered the branch in Leytonstone, east London, to close its doors that day.

Officers found the “decomposing remains” of a mouse as well as droppings “throughout the premises” – including in food preparation areas, main cooking areas and hot food holding areas.

McDonald’s was taken to court this week by Waltham Forest Council after pleading guilty to three charges relating to hygiene breaches and was ordered to pay £500,000 in fines and costs.

Environmental health officers working for Waltham Forest Council visited the restaurant in October 2021, following a customer complaint.

The customer was said to have been “halfway through” eating their cheeseburger when they looked down at the inside of the food wrapper and spotted what they thought was a mouse dropping.

A complaint to the council, led to environmental health officers investigating the Leytonstone restaurant – which still retains a 1.5-star rating on Trip Advisor.

The officers discovered conditions at the restaurant which presented “a real and imminent risk” to the health of customers eating there and immediately ordered the restaurant to close – with those sat eating asked to leave halfway through their meals.

Amongst the officers’ most concerning findings at the premises were the decomposing remains of a dead mouse and droppings spread across various areas of the restaurant.

Mouse droppings were found on the floor of the food preparation and main cooking section; in the main cooking area next to a tray of cooking utensils; in the hot holding food preparation area on the main floor; in the staff room; in a storage area and cleaning store cupboard, and even in a box containing a bottle of caramel drizzle drink sauce.

The unhygienic conditions were discovered despite staff having completed paperwork claiming that cleaning schedules had been completed, and officers also found several areas in the kitchen to be “dirty, greasy and dusty”.

The McDonald’s restaurant – of which there are another 1,299 across the UK – remained shut for a period of ten days before officers revisited and were satisfied all issues were resolved and that the restaurant could reopen.

Waltham Forest Council, which is responsible for the restaurant’s food hygiene rating, took legal action against the fast-food giant for the “significant risk” the conditions of the restaurant posed to its customers.

McDonald’s admitted the breaches and was ordered to pay a a £475,000fine and £22,000 costs by magistrates at Thames Magistrates’ Court.

Councillor Khevyn Limbajee, Waltham Forest Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said customers should be made to feel confident that their food has been cooked and prepared in a clean and safe environment.

Limbajee said: “We are grateful for the quick thinking of the customer in this case for reporting the matter to the Council for investigation.

“There was a significant risk posed to the health of residents and visitors to Waltham Forest and as such the Council had no option but to take formal action in this case.

“McDonald’s is a large and well-experienced food business operator in the fast-food sector who serves thousands of meals per week to its customers, therefore the risk presented at the Leytonstone store was significant.

“It was appreciated that McDonald’s pleaded guilty and admitted wrongdoing at the first opportunity, however as a Council we take food hygiene seriously and won’t hesitate to follow up complaints and take action where appropriate, irrespective of who operates the food business.

“Residents and visitors should feel confident and assured that when they check a premises’ food hygiene rating in Waltham Forest, they know their food has been cooked in a clean and safe environment and that we take a zero-tolerance approach to serious hygiene contraventions.”

Related links:

Man, 72, ditches retirement because it’s boring and gets job at McDonald’s

Waitress who refused to share £3,500 tip with co-workers told not to return to work

Passive aggressive tipping technique leaves people furious