Almost 100 of North Herts food businesses don’t meet hygiene standards

Food Hygiene Rating scheme

Food Hygiene Rating scheme - Credit: Archant

Almost 100 North Hertfordshire businesses that handle food are failing to meet hygiene standards, new data reveals.

All food businesses are given a hygiene rating from zero to five, with a rating of at least three indicating they are broadly compliant with hygiene law.

There are 1,194 such establishments in North Herts, according to the latest data from the Food Hygiene Standards Agency, which includes restaurants, shops and takeaways as well as food manufacturers and distributors.

Of these, 96 - 8 per cent - had a hygiene rating of two or below as of 2018-19, meaning improvements are necessary.

This was below the rate across England, Wales and Northern Ireland , where 9 per cent of food businesses were found to be non-compliant.

Not all establishments will have been inspected during the course of the year.

Businesses are also given a risk ranking to determine how often they need to be assessed, based on factors such as the type of food being handled or the number of consumers potentially at risk.

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As of March, there were four North Herts businesses placed in the most high-risk category - four of which had a hygiene rating of less than three.

Of all the businesses that did face an inspection or other form of assessment in 2018-19, ten were subject to some kind of formal action from the council or courts.

This included one voluntary closure, one caution and eight hygiene improvement notices.

Written warnings were issued to 321 businesses, while inspectors carried out one prosecution.

Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, council inspectors took enforcement actions, including informal written warnings, against almost 160,000 establishments.

The proportion of businesses with a hygiene rating of at least three increased slightly, rising by 0.5 percentage points compared to the previous year.

In total, councils carried out 86.3 per cent of all the interventions due to be completed during the course of the year, which can include activities such as surveillance, sampling visits or full inspections - up from 85.1 per cent the previous year.

North Herts District Council estimates that it employs the equivalent of three full-time members of staff who are responsible for managing food hygiene standards.

That's 2.5 employees for every 1,000 businesses, lower than the national average of 2.6.