Concerns about food hygiene led to 860 written warnings being issued to businesses across Teesside last year.

Any breach of food hygiene regulations can lead to a written warning, and they are separate to the 0-5 star hygiene rating system.

Breaches include problems with cleanliness, training of staff, record keeping, washing facilities and the correct separation of cooked and raw foods.

Data from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) shows the businesses inspected are mostly restaurants, but include any establishment which handles unpacked food including farms, manufacturers and catering companies.

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Where were they handed out?

There are 12 businesses on Teesside that have been handed a ‘zero star’ rating – the lowest possible score, which indicates food businesses need to make urgent changes.

Of those 12, 10 are in Middlesbrough and two in Stockton.

However, when inspectors assessed 1,143 businesses in Middlesbrough and only handed out 84.

In Stockton, 1,563 businesses were assessed and wrote out 463 warnings.

Redcar and Cleveland, which has no businesses with a zero star rating, there were 1,008 businesses assessed – with 315 warnings issued.

What can happen next?

Officials consider the seriousness of the case, as well as the co-operation of the business, before deciding on what action to take.

As well as the written warnings, there are other ways to enforce standards

In Middlesbrough there were 10 hygiene prohibition notices, three voluntary closures, three hygiene improvement notices, one food seizure and one detention notice.

Inspectors carried out four successful prosecutions in court, for food hygiene breaches.

Redcar and Cleveland saw seven voluntary closures, seven cautions and one hygiene improvement notice. Inspectors carried out four successful prosecutions in court, for food hygiene breaches.

In Stockton there were 11 voluntary closures, eight food seizures and two cautions. Inspectors carried out two successful prosecutions in court, for food hygiene breaches.

How is it different to the ‘scores on the doors’?

High risk scores were given to 13 businesses across Teesside, which means they need to be inspected again within six months.

This rating is different from the 0-5 star score that restaurants and takeaways display in their windows, as it is an indicator of when officials need to assess the business again.

A business which gets a high risk rating is “highly likely” to have breached food hygiene regulations, according to the FSA.

However it could also be because of its trade, such as large scale manufacturers with lots of customers or businesses that carry out specialist procedures.

What’s the picture nationally?

In total there were more than 150,000 written warnings handed out in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2017-18, and 267 successful prosecutions. Scotland collects its data separately.

Nina Purcell, director of Regulatory Delivery at the FSA, said: “It’s encouraging that local authorities have made improvements in the percentage of interventions achieved and are continuing to target their activities at food businesses where food safety risks are the highest or where food fraud is more likely.”

An FSA spokeswoman encouraged people who see bad food hygiene to report it to the council.

In a statement, she said: “You can report poor hygiene practices in a restaurant, store or other food outlet to the business’s local authority at www.food.gov.uk .”

© 2018 Tees Info

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