A CHICKEN restaurant in East Oxford was warned rats could be living in its yard and its gherkins may be contaminated.

Perios in Cowley Road was given a one-star hygiene rating by Oxford City Council environmental health officers in March.

But the management and staff made a number of required improvements in quick time and inspectors were 'pleased' when they revisited this month.

Another visit for the remaining issues will be made on May 4 and manager Skendy Dizd said he was '100 per cent confident' of a high rating.

Inspectors were less than impressed on their first visit, though, and slammed staff over food storage.

Their report read: "The raw meat in the walk-in chiller was being stored adjacent to ready-to-eat-foods – gherkins – posing a risk of contamination.

"Raw burgers were also being stored in the fridge on the top shelf next to milk.

"You must store all raw meats in a separate section or on the bottom shelf of the chiller or fridge."

A lack of hand drying facilities, hot water in the toilet sink and sanitising spray was also criticised.

But it was the 'dirty' state of the rear of the property which caused officers the most concern.

Their report continued: "Open bags of onions, beans and flour were being stored in the external corridor area by the walk-in chiller.

"Food must not be stored outside as this poses a risk of contamination from rodents (rats and mice) which are historically known in the area.

"The yard and external corridor had large excessive accumulations of cardboard, oil drums, onion skins, dried beans and dirt."

The inspector went on: "I am very concerned that there is an issue with rats harbouring in the rear areas, especially as the yard and external corridor are dirty, with accumulations of rubbish.

"This potentially allows for rats to thrive by providing them with food and shelter – you must employ a pest control contractor and request they place baits externally and internally to look for signs of rodent activity."

They also suspected the store room was being used as a bedroom as a mattress was found with pillows and sheets along with a cot and children's toys.

Less than three weeks later the council inspectors returned and were 'pleased' with the improvement and listed a few minor issues still to be addressed.

Restaurant manager Skendy Dizd said: "There were some problems at the back of the property, as there is a development under construction behind us.

"We have sorted the mess out after their original visit and when they returned they were happy and satisfied with the improvements we had made.

"When they come back for another inspection I'm 100 per cent confident of a high rating."