How clean are your favourite restaurants in Suffolk and north Essex? Search our tables here
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Urgent improvements have been demanded of five food businesses in Suffolk and north Essex, according to hygiene inspection reports.
Data taken from the Food Standards Agency shows that while the majority of restaurants, cafes and pubs in the region are complying with regulations, a small number have still failed to meet basic requirements.
Among the very worst to be visited by inspectors were five that received a “zero” rating out of five, which, according to the FSA means they are likely to have a history of serious problems.
Restaurant and takeaways in Bungay, Lowestoft, Pakefield, Clacton and Colchester were all reported as having zero ratings earlier this month.
Inspectors visiting some of these restaurants have highlighted worrying problems such as “uncontrolled mice activity”, cross-contamination of raw and ready-to-eat foods and “filthy” cooking equipment. Some of these businesses, however, have since made improvements and achieved better ratings that now meet the required standards.
Businesses with a rating of three or higher are considered to be meeting standards, which 97.3% of those in Suffolk and north Essex has achieved.
The food hygiene ratings, also known as “scores on the doors”, were first introduced in 2010 to help people choose where to eat.
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Our data was taken from the FSA website on January 12 and several businesses have since received higher or lower ratings. There is also a delay between inspections taking place and ratings being posted on the FSA’s website.
Some of the businesses named may have since closed or changed ownership. Others are yet to be inspected and a small number are considered “exempt”, such as those not generally considered to be food businesses.
Take a look at our searchable tables for each district or borough in Suffolk and north Essex to see how your favourite restaurants compare.
Babergh businesses perform on par with the regional average, with 97.3% meeting the required standard of three or higher.
None of the district’s businesses recorded the very worst score, with just nine scoring one and a further nine rated as two.
The majority of businesses – 77.3% –scored the very highest rating of five.
Babergh adopted the Food Standards Agency’s national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme from April 2013.
Forest Heath businesses scored slightly higher than the regional average, with 97.4% scoring three or higher.
There were no businesses listed as being rated zero, though 10 received a rating of one.
Three further businesses scored two.
Again, a majority of businesses – 76% – scored the highest rating, however this was slightly below the regional average.
Ipswich had the highest level of businesses failing to meet standards at 5.2%, almost twice the regional average of 2.7%.
At the time of our survey, 32 businesses had a rating of one, with a further 19 scoring two.
Since then, however, the Brewery Tap in Cliff Lane became the only Ipswich business to receive a zero rating, after inspectors called for “urgent” improvements.
Brewery Tap manager Mike Keen said the main concern was a vac pack machine which was used for both raw and cooked food.
He said: “We have now got rid of the machine, we didn’t realise it was not meant to be used for both. We’ve also overhauled the management procedures which did not meet their recommendations. We are being re-inspected soon and I think we should get a four, which is great news.”
The majority of Ipswich’s food outlets – 732 in total – are meeting the highest rating of five.
An Ipswich Borough Council spokesman said: “When planning your special meal out, make sure you check the hygiene ratings online and choose a restaurant that takes food hygiene seriously. For local food businesses a good food hygiene rating is something to be proud of. It matters to customers so we are encouraging all businesses in Ipswich to display their rating.”
Mid Suffolk had one of the region’s best compliance rates, with 97.5% of businesses rated three or higher.
Despite so many businesses meeting standards, the proportion scoring the very highest rating – 74.5% – was below the regional average.
There were no zero-rated businesses.
Two scored one and a further 12 received a rating of two.
St Edmundsbury also had a high rate of compliance, with 97.4% of businesses rated three or higher.
The district also had one of the highest proportions of businesses scoring the very highest rating, at 83.9%
No businesses were zero-rated, 12 scored one and a further seven were rated two.
A total of 725 businesses have been given ratings.
Suffolk Coastal businesses achieved the best results in the region.
The proportion of those meeting the standard – 99.7% – was the highest in the region.
And 86.3% of businesses received the very highest rating, which was also the best percentage in the region.
There were no zero-ratings, one businesses was rated one and two received a rating of two.
Waveney had the most zero-rated business in the region.
The Mermaid Fish Bar in Bungay, New Shanghai in Lowestoft and Trowel and Hammer in Pakefield all received the lowest rating.
However the Mermaid claims to have been given a three rating in a recent inspection and the New Shanghai says its latest rating has also improved to a one. The FSA website was still showing the zero-ratings for the two businesses on Wednesday, but said “new ratings to be published soon”.
Mark Edmonds, licensee at The Trowel and Hammer said he took the pub on last year and “inherited a zero-rating, with a vast amount of work needing to be done”. “This was going to be an uphill struggle that could not be sorted out overnight,” he added.
He said the kitchen was in a “very poor state of repair” but was work was due to be finished next month. “We have very high standards and are quite sure our future mark will show this,” he added.
Waveney District Council said the 95.6% of businesses meeting standards was a “significant improvement” since the scheme launched in 2012.
“These improvements are testament to the ongoing hard work of our Food and Safety Team working with local business owners to ensure food hygiene is taken seriously.
“All food businesses are capable of achieving the top rating of 5 of ‘very good’,” a spokesman added.
Braintree had one of the best compliance rates in the region, with 98.7% of businesses scoring three or more – the highest rate in north Essex.
None of the business scored zero, nine were rated one and four scored two.
The proportion of businesses scoring the highest rating was 75.4%.
Braintree District Council said it routinely inspect all food premises in the district to ensure that they are clean and hygienic.
A zero-rated takeaway in Colchester was fined £7,170 for food hygiene offences last year.
Tasty Garden, a Chinese and Thai restaurant in Osborne Street, had been rated zero after inspectors visited in June and found “uncontrolled mice activity”.
The business had closed voluntarily but has since reopened.
Its rating is still listed as zero. It did not respond to requests for comment.
A Colchester Borough Council spokesperson said: “We have recently begun to see a small increase in the number of food establishments being awarded lower ratings, so the trend, if there is one, will not be clear until the end of year.
“There could be any number of factors driving lower ratings over time, ranging from new businesses not understanding the law and requirements, the time of an inspection and the lack of a proactive response from some business owners.”
Overall, 97.4% of rated businesses had met the required standards.
However, 22 scored one star and further eight were rated two.
Tendring’s only zero-rate restaurant has recently been inspected again and now meets standards.
Sun Yao takeaway in Jaywick had been given the lowest rating by inspectors in August.
However, following an inspection earlier this month, it has been awarded a rating of four.
The restuarant said it had made the improvements asked of it.
Nigel Brown, Tendring District Council’s Communications Manager, said the ratings scheme seems to have the desired effect in that businesses tend to make changes quickly if they receive a low rating.
“The whole objective of the scheme is to improve standards of food hygiene and our evidence tends to suggest that a poor score encourages a rapid change in the way the business operates and this is good for everyone, including the business themselves,” he said.
“Often it is the push they need to take action and make improvements for the better.”
Overall, 79% of Tendring businesses met the required standard, with 96.2% rated five.
Nine scored one and 16 received a rating of two.