Varvakeios Market told to clean up

Spurred on by the discovery of appalling conditions in one of the warehouses belonging to a butcher at the Varvakeios Market in central Athens, state inspectors yesterday issued a report slamming the levels of hygiene at the historic market and demanding better standards. «The list of problems, chiefly those having to do with hygiene, are not encouraging at all,» said Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros. Inspectors from the prefecture first raided the market on Saturday night after a television report about the lack of cleanliness at one of the warehouses. The officials found rats and cockroaches in the storage area, which had moldy walls, and seized 152 kilos of rotten meat. Since then, 522 kilos of meat have been confiscated from other butchers at the market. Checks from Monday through yesterday revealed that the problem went much deeper than was first thought. Inspectors said that the metal security grates on many stores had large gaps that allowed rodents and even stray cats and dogs to enter the shops when they were closed – the market does not have any outer doors or gates. They found that many ventilation or light shafts had not been protected with wire mesh to prevent insects from entering the stores. «There must be a way to close the central entrance to the market so the problem regarding stray animals can be rectified,» the inspectors wrote in their report. Checks also revealed that many of the refrigerated display cases in which the meat was stored for customers to view were not closed so the proper temperature (below 4 degrees Celsius) was not being maintained. In some cases, inspectors found that refrigerators had not been turned on at all. The officials also found that many of the butcher shops had dirty floors and were using rusty utensils. They found paint peeling off the walls in many underground storage areas and said there was not adequate ventilation. «The owners of each butcher shop must realize that they are duty-bound to follow health and hygiene regulations,» said the inspectors.

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