The owner of a Hartlepool pizzeria has been prosecuted for having a "widespread infestation" of mice at his premises.
Mustafa Dag, food business operator of AFC Pizzeria & Grill House, Hartlepool, appeared at Teesside Magistrates' Court on May 3 to admit the offences.
Five charges under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 were brought against him.
He was ordered to pay a £1,600 fine, £32 surcharge and £837 costs to Hartlepool Borough Council.
Mr Dag voluntarily closed his premises in August 2018 and contacted a pest contractor following a visit from the council's Environmental Health officers, who were responding to a complaint from a member of the public, who claimed they had spotted a mouse.
When they visited the shop, at 133 Stockton Road, officers found evidence of an active and widespread infestation of mice, as well as a poor standard of cleanliness.
During Mr Dag's appearance before magistrates, the court heard evidence of poor hygiene practices at his premises, including failing to ensure that adequate procedures were in place to control pests, failing to protect food from the risk of contamination, failing to keep the structure of the premises and equipment clean and failing to put in place, implement and maintain a food safety management system.
Following the closure, officers worked closely with Mr Dag and his pest contractor on improving the shop's hygiene standards.
Over the course of several re-visits, cleanliness improved and AFC Pizzeria & Grill was able to re-open to the customers.
The premises was re-inspected in November last year and received a food hygiene rating of four. The highest possible rating awarded by the Food Standards Agency is five.
A further inspection was carried out last month and confirmed that standards had been maintained, meaning the eatery could keep its rating of four - which means hygiene standards are classed as "good".
Sylvia Pinkney, Head of Public Protection, said: “We work very closely with businesses to ensure they know the law and offer help and advice where we can.
"We have an excellent record in the borough of food hygiene compliance. Over 90% of food businesses in Hartlepool have achieved a four or five rating under the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.
"However, in certain cases, prosecution is the only option to ensure people are protected from the risk of food poisoning.
"We hope that this prosecution and fine will send a strong message out to the minority of food businesses that do not take food hygiene seriously and put people’s health at risk.”