Food outlets in Wales are now legally obliged to display their Food Standards Agency (FSA) hygiene rating in a prominent place. This is bad news for over a hundred kitchens which have received zero stars. The ratings apply not just to restaurants and takeaways, but to all food outlets. Among those receiving a zero star rating were rugby clubs, sweet shops and even a primary school.
Powys was the county most frequently represented with 19 establishments listed, including Sennybridge County Primary School. However, the council’s communications manager said that the issues at the school had been rectified and that a higher rating of five would be applied when the FSA updated its website.
This highlights the fact that ratings are not static, but are instead subject to regular revision. As a spokeswoman for the FSA said:
“Businesses are not given a zero then left alone, if there’s a risk to public health there are certain procedures in place, and the inspectors would be working with businesses on the actions they need to take.”
Equally, a five star rating is no cause for resting on one’s laurels as if standards slip, a new, lower rating will reflect that. Food must be handled hygienically and managed correctly, but the premises must also be in good condition. All three aspects contribute to a kitchen’s star rating.
The Real China in Highcross has been fined £12,000 after admitting 12 charges relating to food hygiene at Leicester Magistrates’ Court. Environmental health officers attending for a routine inspection found dirty equipment, broken fridge seals and food stored at the incorrect temperature.
One of the main charges related to the serving of buffet style food. According to law, such food must be kept at 63 degrees or higher. Fried chicken was found to be 52 degrees and shredded pork 59 degrees.
Prosecutor, Nicki Agalamanyi, said:
“When an officer asked the chef to show her the food temperature probes, she was given two probes. The probes were very dirty and, when this was brought to the chef’s attention, he was seen to pick food debris from the probes with his fingers.”
This took place in October. In November, a subsequent visit saw the restaurant advised to repair or replace floor surfaces but by January, nothing had been done. The floor was slippery underfoot and other issues were also apparent. Food had been put into refrigerators before it had sufficiently cooled and again some hot buffet food was being served at too low a temperature, including chicken and mushroom at 50 degrees.
Wenbing Liang, the director of the firm which runs the restaurant, responded by saying:
“On behalf of the company and all my colleagues, I want to say sorry. We have undertaken a deep clean and have spent tens of thousands on a new floor and new equipment.”
Another inspection is scheduled in the near future.
The After Dark club in Bolton has been forced to close due to a failure to meet fire safety standards. Fire service officials found blocked exits and emergency exit signs that did not illuminate. It was also found that the alarm was not linked to the sound system and so could not be heard for the music.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service Fire Safety Officer, Wayne Van Hecke, said:
“We found the life risk to the public was so great that we had no other option than to prohibit the opening of the club until the necessary fire safety standards were met, as public safety is our number one priority.”
The club was closed at 1am on Sunday morning and the management apologised to customers for their having to leave ‘while the party was bouncing’. The repair work will be undertaken and it was hoped that the club would be open again by the following weekend.
PC Jane Wilcock from Bolton’s police partnership team said that the visit had been planned and also involved licensing staff from Bolton Council. A secondary aim was to see whether there were any underage drinks sales taking place or whether alcohol was being served to those who were already too intoxicated. The ongoing operation will see a number of licensed premises in the area visited in the run-up to Christmas.