A Thornton Heath grocery store was forced to stop trading for a week late last year after food hygiene inspectors discovered a "mouse infestation."

But the manager said the mouse problem was not entirely their fault.

KK African Foods, in 81 Thornton Road, was told 'urgent improvement' was necessary when inspectors visited in November.

Inspectors rate establishments out of five options, from zero - meaning 'urgent improvement necessary' - to five, meaning 'very good'.

Inspectors rated African Foods zero.

In reports seen by the Croydon Guardian, the inspector made clear that the shop would have to close indefinitely until the mouse problem had been dealt with.

"You have agreed to voluntarily close the business due to an imminent risk to public health as there is an active mouse infestation at the business," the inspector wrote.

"If you re-open the business without my consent, the business will be formally closed.

"Clean disinfect all food surfaces, remove all droppings, dead mice, block all holes and contact your pest control."

The manager of the store, who wished to remain nameless, began his role with the store just a month before the inspection took place.

He said the store was closed for nearly a week (and has since re-opened for business) but claimed the main reason African Foods was in such a bad state when he took over was rubbish being dumped around the area.

"People were just dumping rubbish outside the store which doesn't help the situation," the manager said.

"When the inspector came around I took them everywhere in the store and didn't hide anything."

He also admitted that he wasn't entirely clear on the procedures when he first took over, but says the situation with the mice has been fixed and the store is as good as ever.

"It helped me as we had to change the whole place upside down," he said.

"It is all nice and clean now.

"There are no rats or mice in my shop."