NEARLY 200 food outlets across Teesside were found to be selling food despite “unsatisfactory” hygiene conditions at their last inspection.

Of those, 23 were given a zero out of five rating by Food Standards Agency (FSA) inspectors which is defined as “urgent improvement necessary.”

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council issued a plea urging diners and shoppers to check any food establishment’s rating online with the FSA before buying prepared food.

The authority has 49 food outlets out of more than 1,100 where hygiene was rated as below satisfactory. Of those nine were given a zero hygiene rating.

The Stockton area had 85 ‘below satisfactory’ - or one or two point rated - food sellers out of 1,345 outlets. Of those six received a zero point rating.

Middlesbrough had 37 below satisfactory outlets out of 1,066 with eight receiving a zero point rating.

Hartlepool was the best performing area, which just 25 below satisfactory food outlets out of 756 but with none receiving the lowest possible rating.

A spokesman for Redcar and Cleveland Council explained many food businesses that present a low threat to the public, like newsagents and childminders who cook at home, are never inspected under the national scheme, although other checks are made.

Steven Goldswain, the council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “We want people to get into the habit of checking food hygiene ratings and not just the menu when they are choosing somewhere to eat.

“Food hygiene ratings should be clearly displayed in each shop, takeaway or restaurant, but if they are not, we want people to ask a member of staff or look for the rating online.”

Catriona Stewart, head of the food hygiene ratings team at the Government’s Food Standards Agency, said: “The food hygiene rating scheme is a great tool when choosing where to eat out, particularly when celebrating a special meal, because it tells you what’s going in the kitchen and behind the scenes.”

Many restaurants and other food outlets immediately improve their hygiene following a critical report but the original rating remains posted online. Most food outlets in every district received a top, five point, rating.

Ratings are available online by visiting