FOOD SAFETY

Zero-star food hygiene ratings significantly down across pub sector

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

Dr Lisa Ackerley: data shows importance of ratings scheme in driving standards
Dr Lisa Ackerley: data shows importance of ratings scheme in driving standards

Related tags: Food hygiene rating, Food standards agency, Hygiene

The number of pubs given the lowest possible food hygiene rating by the Food Standards Agency has consistently dropped over the past four years, new data reveals.

Stats obtained by The Morning Advertiser (MA)​ under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that only 211 pubs were given the rating in 2015, down from 403 in 2012.

The numbers steadily dropped between 2012 and 2015. 324 pubs were given a zero rating in 2013 followed by 304 in 2014.

Dr Lisa Ackerley, food safety adviser to the British Hospitality Association (BHA), told The MA​: "I think this is very encouraging news for the pub industry and shows how the food hygiene rating scheme is encouraging pub operators to drive up hygiene standards.

"New businesses need to ensure they are up to speed with what's required."

Failures

The pub sector has seen a number of high-profile food safety failures make the headlines this year.

Mitchells & Butlers was fined £100,000 after environmental health officers uncovered signs of a rodent infestation​ at one of its Birmingham pubs.

The company had earlier this year admitted a breach of duty after hundreds of customers came down with norovirus​ after visiting one of the company’s Toby Carvery sites in Exeter.

One pub in Hull was banned from serving food​ after inspectors discovered food so mouldy it had “grown fur” and a slew of potentially dangerous violations.

Unfair

However, the rational for dishing out hygiene ratings has been questioned by some operators who deem it an unfair way of assessing how good the hygiene practices of a business actually are.

Surrey licensee Sam Daffin of popular barbecue pub the White Hart, Witley, railed against the scheme after his pub was given a zero last month.

He told his local paper that practising the art of “true barbecue” did not always comply with the “modern nanny state”​.

Update

A new handbook, The Industry Guide to Good Hygiene Practice: Catering, ​was launched this year​ - the first update to official food safety guidelines in 20 years. 

Jenny Morris, head of the Institute of Food Safety, Integrity and Protection, said the guide would be "invaluable" to food businesses.

She said: "This well help greatly in building understanding of legal requirements and will promote good practice."

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