Welcome Break 2

Welcome Break Group Limited is working hard to resolve an issue with a ‘significant cockroach infestation’ at its M40 Oxford Services, at junction 8a near Wheatley, which has shut several food-to-go franchises at the site.

A spokesperson for Welcome Break said: “Four food units at Oxford Services have been closed due to a pest issue. These units will remain closed until the issue is resolved. 

“We are cooperating with our local Environmental Health office to resolve the situation as soon as possible. We appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding during this time.” 

South Oxfordshire Environmental Health Officers issued a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice to KFC, The Good Breakfast/Chopstix and Starbucks at the site on May 20, meaning they had to close immediately and cannot re-open until officers deem the health risk has been removed.

The Notice was issued following an emergency investigation after officers received a complaint from a member of the public.

During their investigation, officers found evidence of a cockroach infestation in the food preparation and servery areas of these outlets, which posed a significant risk of food contamination and an imminent risk to the customers’ health.

On Friday May 31, during a hearing at Oxford Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Rana reviewed the evidence and statements provided by the officers and confirmed the imminent health risk on May 20 and was satisfied that the risk to health remained in place. She therefore made a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order and also awarded full costs of just over £3,000 to South Oxfordshire District Council.

Officers continue to work with the business and are monitoring these and the other units at the site and will take further action if appropriate.

Paul Fielding, head of housing and environment at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “When we received the initial complaint, our Environmental Health officers took immediate action and carried out an investigation at Welcome Break Services and served the hygiene emergency prohibition notice requiring the temporary closure of the affected businesses. The infestation presented a signification risk of contamination and a serious risk to public health and I’m pleased that the District Judge has now endorsed the action our officers took. 

“Our officers will continue conducting regular inspections at the site in order to protect public health.  They are also working with Welcome Break to address the issue and supporting their efforts to reopen the impacted units as soon as possible.” 

A criminal investigation into any food hygiene offences committed is ongoing.

Cockroaches carry pathogens which can be passed to food, either directly or indirectly by cross contamination. They can contaminate food, bottles, containers, packaging and equipment. They spread diseases and food poisoning organisms which affect humans.