A dirty dozen Exeter businesses
RESTAURANTS and businesses which have failed to meet food safety requirements in the past year and been told "major improvements are necessary" have been named.
Alarming claims and findings are revealed in reports produced by Exeter City Council environmental health inspectors, including suggestions that a cockroach was found in a meal, mouse droppings were found in food storage areas and canned food was found that was more than 10 years past its best before date. Following a Freedom of Information request by the Echo, the city council released the intervention reports that were produced for businesses which had received a score of one out of five in the Food Standards Agency hygiene rating system, which means they require "major improvement". As part of the "scores on the door" system, customers get an at-a-glance view of how hygienic a restaurant is.
Businesses are encouraged to display a sticker with their rating on a window or door.
A council spokesman said: "The main thrust of the scheme is to encourage businesses to improve their standards.
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"Members of the public can now make informed choices as to whether they go into a restaurant or not. The score of five is not a gold standard – if you are compliant with food hygiene regulations then you will get a five.
"Businesses with scores of one or two are told what they need to do to be compliant and they will be given an acceptable time to do that.
"If they still don't make improvements, we will then look at formal action."
A total of 29 businesses have been given a one out of five rating in the past 12 months. Among those on the list of low scorers is All Day 6 in Palace Gate. It was inspected in October last year after it was reported that a customer had found a cockroach in a meal. There was no evidence of cockroaches when it was inspected but inspectors did find workers in "filthy aprons" and food which needed to be chilled being stored at "room temperature".
Budlake Road firm South West Catering Ltd was ordered to stop meat processing as it was doing so without approval. Inspectors also found in January that there were problems with cleanliness with the owners also urged to "take appropriate action when staff members report they are suffering from illness or disease".
The Real McCoy in the city centre was inspected in December and given a rating of one out of five. But owner Nathan Gregory says he does not feel that is currently a fair representation.
He said: "We now have a new chef in place and a whole new system of food management. We are hoping to be revisited by inspectors in the coming weeks and I would hope we will be rated four or five. The last inspection as certainly outdates and there have been significant improvements since then."
The Heart of Oak in Pinhoe was given a one star rating after a number of issues were found. The pub is now under new management and has not been re-inspected since last March, although the council had stated that it planned to reinspect in May 2012. As such, the city council has confirmed its one star rating has now been withdrawn to be replaced with an "awaiting inspection sticker".
Landlord David Carr said: "The one star rating the former management received is in no way an accurate reflection of our pub and I am sure that when we are eventually re-inspected, we will be at the top end of the scale. There are new chefs and new systems in place and we have totally transformed the way the kitchen is run. The report from last year is not a fair judgment of the Heart of Oak and I have urged to council to come for a new inspection."
To find out more, visit ratings.food.gov.uk