More than 150 restaurants, pubs, shops and takeaways in and around Norwich have been told by food inspectors that they need to improve their standards of hygiene.

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Recent figures show the number of food premises in the city which are ‘broadly complaint’ with food hygiene law has dipped.

And that means hygiene in about 10pc of businesses which sell food is not up to scratch, according to inspectors.

Among the hygiene contraventions discovered by inspectors last year were: • A shop selling food and drink which was 18 months out of date

• Bags of ‘raw’ meat found at the bottom of an ice-cream freezer

• A restaurant with mouldy and dirty taps

• A shop which had a rat and cockroach infestation and where some of the food had been gnawed by rodents

• A takeaway where food was being defrosted in a dirty sink

• A cafe where leftover, reheated soup was cooled, refrigerated and used the next day

• A pub where the chef was seen by inspectors handling raw bacon directly next to open salad, until reminded

what he was doing was wrong

• A takeaway which had an “active rat infestation” in its cellar cavity walls

The dip in standards has led environmental health officers at Norwich City Council to take the “unprecedented step” of writing to almost 300 food premises to warn them they are due to be inspected, because of fears standards are slipping.

And Jaan Stanton, food safety manager at Norwich City Council, said he would like to see food premises legally required to display their food hygiene ratings, as he believes that would help raise standards.

The city council was the first local authority in the UK to have its own public food hygiene rating scheme and was the first to sign up to the Food Standards Agency’s national scheme in 2010.

After a premises has been inspected an overall number rating, from zero (the worst) to five (the best) is awarded, based on food safety standards found at the time of the inspection.

Three areas are assessed with regard to compliance with food law - food hygiene, structure and cleanliness and confidence in management.

Since 2009, the number of broadly compliant food business - those which get a rating of 3 or above in the checks - has increased by about 2pc year on year.

But the most recent figures showed a drop in the number achieving that rating, from 91pc in 2011/12 to 89.9pc.

A city council spokeswoman said: “It was apparent that some businesses were failing to keep up to date with their management checks and in certain cases standards of food hygiene and cleaning had also slipped.”

As of January this year, there were 153 food premises in the city which are not broadly compliant, having a rating of 2 or below and which, according to the inspectors, require “at least some degree of improvement”.

The council said one of the reasons for the slip in standards is because a large number of inspections are being conducted at businesses which have not been inspected for some time.

Mr Stanton said: “I don’t think it’s a question of the novelty wearing off, but the issue dips in and out of the consciousness of businesses.

“I know the scheme recently featured on the BBC programme The Food Inspectors and the Food Standards Agency were very pleased about that.

“But there is probably a point at which you won’t any major further improvement until the introduction of compulsory display of the ratings. “We would very much welcome that, as it would provide the spur to get improvements once again.”

The dip in performance led the council to take what they called an “unprecedented step” of writing to 272 businesses which are due an inspection before the start of April, to warn them that inspectors would soon be on their way.

A council spokeswoman said: “Each was reminded that their inspection was due soon and told of some of the common faults that had contributed to recent low scores. All subsequent inspections were, and continue to be, unannounced.”

The city council spokeswoman added: “None of us can take food safety for granted. Every year around a million people get food poisoning in the UK and regrettably some of these people die.

“Keeping standards high not only requires an effort on the part of the food businesses operator but also a commitment from the city council to support businesses with advice and guidance where appropriate.”

Twenty notices were served on businesses which contravened food safety laws last year. The council accepted voluntary closure from three of them, while one - The Asian Bazaar in Magdalen Street - was closed down using an emergency prohibition notice.

Mr Stanton said the council would always look to avoid prosecuting businesses if possible, but said there were some prosecutions in the pipeline.

He added key advice to businesses, along with general cleanliness, included: Keeping management checks up to date, including a daily diary; to make sure there is no cross contamination which could lead to e-coli; to ensure sinks are clean, with soap dispensers kept topped up and handtowels regularly changed; and to make sure food is stored at the correct temperatures.

While some food businesses do display their award certificates so the public can see how they fare, all ratings can be found on the city council’s website at www.norwich.gov.uk/environment/EnvironmentalHealth/FoodSafety/FoodHygieneRatings/Documents/FoodRatings.html

19 comments

  • Quite so Valpy, they're all wimps bor! Btw this would never have happened on "The Withered Hand's" watch....

    Report this comment

    blackcab

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • But lets face it all the restaurants and fast food outlets serve 100% beef and the only Horse you'll see down Prince Of Wales Road, is a Panto One :p which is scared as hell when it goes into a well known convenience store :) (Allegedly)

    Report this comment

    chebram71

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Norwich city council should name and shame those that fail the checks, enabling customer confidence. If you're not named, then it's simple you have nothing to fear!!

    Report this comment

    macmillan7382

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • why not asked to see the kitchen if your local council can't provide you with a list of restaurants that have passed their regular inspections. If the restaurant refuses, they must have something to hide, or feel put on the spot, but you are free to leave even if you have booked a seat. If everyone would ask to see the kitchen, chefs would ensure theirs is clean and we can cut down on this fickle and expensive service.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Eat where you can view the kitchen from your seat,such as The Library,Ask Italian etc

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Never mind the "quality", see the filth.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • To paraphrase a once famous TV commercial ... on the subject of vermine, I'm with chloesmithwatchdotwordpressdotcom.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Why warn people an inspection is due? Go in and see them as they really are. Otherwise, they will sharpen up for the inspection and go back to their old ways afterwards.

    Report this comment

    julygirl

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Tip of the liceberg.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Some excessively strict moderation going on here. Will try again- Why doesnt the EDP name and shame these people risking our health in the same way that it jumps the gun to name farmers subject to random accusations by activists? Could it be that the nature of the ownership of many of the failed establishments makes them nervous about reporting actual cases or is it the inspectors and the council who are failing by not letting us know which takeaways and restaurants we should avoid like the plague?

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • There is a list of places inspected on the city council website. Go to the alphabetical list of services, select 'Food Safety' then click on 'Food Ratings List'

    Report this comment

    tabby

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • That's nothing - I went to Disneyland Paris last year and there was a 6 foot mouse running around the restaurant.........

    Report this comment

    harpo51

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • I heard that the Indian restaraunts in the City were very clean and strict in preparing food especially for vegetarians. I worked in a well known Italian restaraunt for several years and can hoestly say there was nothing to worry about.

    Report this comment

    oldowl

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Paragraph 2 should read "broadly compliant" not "broadly complaint."

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Food inspectors? Lucky they still have jobs after all the Government cuts. Never mind, it must be beause those "democracy dodging" lefties at City Hall actually raise taxes to pay for important public services exactly like this.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • After working in many restaurants, cafes and pubs in Norwich over the years, I no longer eat out.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • The list on the City Council website is most revealing. Some big names need to raise their game [Bhs, Coop Foodstore, Holiday Inn, Tesco among others]. Lots of pubs are clearly not doing enough and the managements of the two shopping malls really ought to deal with the low-scoring establishments that are dragging down their reputations. Some streets, predictably, have numerous low-rated food premises, and even a rat would be sick after eating in the Prince of Wales Road I expect.

    Report this comment

    JCW

    Friday, March 1, 2013

  • A few little critters won't hurt you!! They're everywhere anyway, I eat where the food tastes good. And who, seriously, is going to walk into a restaurant and demand to see the kitchen? If I was the proprietor I'd refuse on the grounds that the person demanding could themselves be a health hazard. Customers in the customer area. What a stupid suggestion.

    Report this comment

    Valpy Word

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • I agree with macmillan7382, they should be named and shamed, I would like to know who they are so I, and most certainly many others, could avoid using them. No excuse for keeping filthy premises. A warning should be issued that with all future inspections any results, good or bad, would definitely would be on open display to the public then I would consider hygiene would be upped in all establishments. Fear of losing trade would soon do that, it would be a great deterrent.

    Report this comment

    mike smith

    Monday, February 25, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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