66 premises in the West of England get zero food hygiene ratings

Following a recent round of inspections, a total of 66 food businesses in the West of England have been given a zero food hygiene rating – the very worst rating it is possible to get.

The shocking results of the inspections were uncovered by the BBC Inside Out programme, but the ratings of all food businesses in the UK are available to view online. It is currently optional for businesses to display their rating on their premises.

The worst offenders were found to be in Bath and north-east Somerset, as well as in Wiltshire, as 11 premises in each received the zero rating. This rating means that “urgent improvement” is needed in areas such as cleanliness of equipment and premises, food hygiene training for staff, food storage methods and equipment, temperature control and the food safety management system in general.

Businesses with zero ratings can remain open to the public, but they must work closely with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and their local council to make the required improvements or they will face further action. This could include prosecution, fines or the closing down of the business completely.

Health and social care review to be carried out in Wales

A review into health and social care services is to be carried out in Wales, with unannounced visits to take place at around 100 care homes this year.

The review is being spearheaded by Sarah Rochira, the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, who wants to use the upcoming visits to hear directly from care home residents and their families about the quality and standards of care they receive from care providers.

Discussing her aims for the review, Ms Rochira said:

“The voices of older people, as well as those who care for and care about them, are at the heart of my work as commissioner, which is why I want to hear about their experiences of residential care,”

“By giving a voice to older people and their families, my review and recommendations will ensure that those who are accountable for and run our services understand the day-to-day realities of living in residential care in Wales and the action required to deliver the change needed to ensure that that older people living in residential care have the best quality of life,”

The evidence gathered from the review will be put to a very good purpose, as it will be used to develop recommendations for public bodies and care providers. It may be used to develop new care training schemes, change policies and practices and perhaps even underpin new regulation.

Croydon takeaway guilty of breaching fire safety laws

The owner of a takeaway restaurant in Croydon has been prosecuted and given a suspended prison sentence for breaching fire safety laws and potentially putting his customers and staff in danger.

Munawar Ahmed, the owner of the Chicken Inn and Takeaway, was given a prohibition notice following an inspection by Croydon Council’s housing enforcement team back in January 2011. The notice prohibited the rooms upstairs from the chicken shop being used as accommodation, as they did not have any of the required safety measures such as fire doors, smoke alarms and emergency lighting in place.

The two floors over the restaurant were also littered with dangerous combustibles, and no fire risk assessment – a vital part of fire safety training courses – had been carried out on the ground floor area.

However, on a follow-up visit, inspectors found that the prohibition notice had been breached and that the two floors were still being used as accommodation. Mr Ahmed was prosecuted and found guilty of breaching fire safety regulations. He was given a 15-month suspended prison sentence.

Commenting on the outcome of the case, the London Fire Brigade’s Steve Turek said:

“This verdict should serve as a stark warning to landlords and business owners that they have a responsibility under fire safety laws to ensure that people living and working in their premises are safe from the risk of fire,”

Shrewsbury first aiders take delivery of life-saving AED machine

First aiders in the Shropshire town of Shrewsbury have taken delivery of a new Automated External Defibrillator (AED) machine, a piece of equipment that could help to save lives in public places.

The AED machine has been designed so that it can technically be used by anyone, but those who have undergone first aid training and specifically, AED training courses, are best placed to use it. The device administers electronic shocks in order to restart of the heart in people suffering from cardiac arrest. It is estimated that for every minute that passes without the use of an AED, a person’s chances of survival drop by around 10 per cent.

The new AED machine will now be put to use by St John Ambulance at public events, where it usually has volunteers providing first aid services to the general public. It was bought by the legacy of local first aider Alan Painter, who died last year and wanted donations instead of flowers at his funeral.

Commenting on the delivery of the AED, St John Ambulance’s Chris Reynolds said:

“The survival rate for cardiac arrest patients increases by more than 50 per cent if an AED is used within the first four minutes so having a defibrillator to use can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved when we are out and about in the community.

“It was very fitting that the AED has been bought in Alan’s memory as he was so committed to St John Ambulance and our first aid work when he was alive.”