See how restaurants in Woodbridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft performed in east Suffolk’s latest food hygiene ratings

Food inspectors (stock image). Picture by Simon Finlay

Food inspectors (stock image). Picture by Simon Finlay - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Urgent improvements have been demanded of three food businesses in east Suffolk, according to hygiene inspection reports.

Data taken from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) 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 three that received a “zero” rating out of five, which, according to the FSA means they are likely to have a history of serious problems. The three restaurants and takeaways in Bungay, Lowestoft and Pakefield were all reported as having zero ratings this month.

Inspectors visiting zero-rated restaurants have highlighted worrying problems such as cross-contamination of raw and ready-to-eat foods and plant material growing through walls. Some of these businesses, however, have since made improvements and claim to have achieved better ratings.

Businesses with a rating of three or higher are considered to be meeting standards, which 97.3% of those in Suffolk and north Essex have achieved.

The Trowel and Hammer, Pakefield. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

The Trowel and Hammer, Pakefield. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

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The food hygiene ratings, also known as “scores on the doors”, were first introduced in 2010 to help people choose where to eat.

Councils, which carry out the inspections, have praised the scheme for driving forward improvements.

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But while most areas now have better standards of food hygiene, there are still significant variations between local authorities.

Whereas just 0.3% of restaurants in Suffolk Coastal fail to meet the required standards, nearly 5% in Waveney have ratings of two or less.

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 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 it launched the scheme 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 five of ‘very good’,” a spokesman added.

Suffolk Coastal businesses achieved the best results in the region, with 99% found to be meeting standards.

There can be a delay between inspections taking place and ratings being posted on the FSA’s website. The information in the searchable table is correct as of January 20, 2017.

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.

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