Norfolk coffee firm’s newest store gets zero food hygiene rating

Grey Seal Coffee in Cromer. Pictures: David Bale

Grey Seal Coffee in Cromer. Pictures: David Bale - Credit: Archant

It claims to be Norfolk's leading specialty coffee roaster - but Grey Seal Coffee is facing a setback after its newest store was given the worst possible food hygiene rating.

Grey Seal Coffee in Cromer. Pictures: David Bale

Grey Seal Coffee in Cromer. Pictures: David Bale - Credit: Archant

The north Norfolk firm's Cromer store opened in the High Street last month and North Norfolk district council's food hygiene inspectors paid a visit on November 28.

The firm says the store was not even open then, and that it was holding a slow opening.

But the council said it was trading, as a member of its staff on the off-chance had walked by and seen it was open.

The council said it should have been notified of the opening.

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The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) rates food businesses on their hygiene standards, based on inspections carried out by the council's food safety officers.

Businesses are rated on a scale ranging from 0 which means urgent improvement necessary to a top rating of 5 which is very good.

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The store received a 0 in the report, which is posted on the Food Standards Agency website.

In the report, management of food safety and cleanliness and condition of facilities and building were both rated as major improvement necessary, while hygienic food handling was rated as improvement necessary.

The firm was given 21 days to appeal the rating, but chose not to, a council spokesman said.

However, it has asked for a re-test, but that cannot be carried out until next February. It means the store is stuck with the zero rating until then, the council said.

Tobias Sangster, one of the firm's owners, said: 'This is a non-story. We were not even open when the inspection was carried out. We were having a soft opening. We have asked for a re-test. We are addressing the issues raised in the food hygiene report.'

The firm, which started about five years ago, is based in Glandford in north Norfolk and also has coffee houses in Wells-next-the-Sea, Blakeney and Sheringham.

Grey Seal is named after the nearby seals at Blakeney and coffee is handroasted using beans imported from across the world.

See the rating here

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