COUNCIL chiefs say 98 per cent of food premises in Redcar and Cleveland are operating to a satisfactory, good or very good hygiene standard after six were identified as requiring major improvements.

The Poon Kee Chinese takeaway in Westgate, Guisborough, Tasties Pizzeria, in Allendale Road, Ormesby, Pams Fish & Chip Shop, in Bolckow Road, Grangetown, Pizza Roma, in Fabian Court, Eston, along with the convenience stores Charlie’s Bargain Centre, in Liverton Mines and the Premier Store, in Ennis Square, Dormanstown, all only received a rating of one in their most recent inspections.

Local council environmental health teams are required to inspect premises selling or cooking food for takeaway and give them a rating of anywhere between zero – which means urgent improvement is required – to five (very good hygiene standards) on a sliding scale with the information published on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website.

The FSA says it is so customers can make “informed choices” about where they choose to eat from.

Redcar and Cleveland Council said 98 per cent of food premises in the borough had a satisfactory, good or very good standard of hygiene and had been awarded a food hygiene rating of three or above. None had a zero rating.

A council spokeswoman said: “Our procedures require environmental health officers to carry out follow up visits to food premises in need of major improvement. 

“We have a plan to revisit all our food premises with a rating of one, or have already done so.

“This is to ensure they have carried out the necessary work to satisfy the officer that standards have improved since the initial visit.”

Councillor Steve Kay, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for health, housing and welfare added: “The work carried out by the council’s environmental health team in our food businesses is of high importance. 

“They check that food businesses meet legal requirements in respect of hygiene and, in doing so, protect the health of the public.”

Many local councils have faced large backlogs in terms of inspections of takeaways and other food premises with environmental health officers being diverted away from their usual work because of the covid-19 pandemic.

Cllr Kay said: “From March 2020 until July 2021 the service priorities were diverted to enforcement of the Covid restrictions legislation. 

“Food hygiene inspections were significantly reduced during this time. 

“Since July the service plan for food hygiene was revised in line with the national priorities for recovery, focusing on inspection of highest risk premises. 

“The service is on track to meet the plan for the 2021/ 2022 period. “

What did those businesses with a rating of one and therefore requiring major improvement say?

Charlie’s Bargain Centre said it had an issue with fixtures and fittings – in particular ageing freezers – and was constantly in touch with the council’s environmental health team. 

It said a “total refit” was in the pipeline.

Poon Kee said: “We want to make sure our customers have really nice food and it is food that is safe and that is what we are doing at the moment, and will continue doing.”

A message was left with a member of staff at Tasties for the manager, but no further response was received.

Pizza Roma and Pams Fish & Chip Shop both suggested a further inspection of their premises was due to take place, with a member of staff at Pizza Roma stating it was later this month.

It was previously reported that there were no significant issues in terms of food hygiene safety at Pams Fish & Chip Shop, but the business was marked down for the poor condition of a toilet, peeling and flaking of paint and a chest freezer being badly iced up.

Speaking in November, co-owner Imran Hussain said the shop was nearly 50 years old, but everything was clean and it had been redecorated and was “100 per cent up to standard”.

A reporter twice called the Premier Store, in Ennis Square, Dormanstown, but was unable to speak to staff.

  • The only council area in the Tees Valley which has no food premises with either zero or one rated businesses is Stockton.