Revealed: One in ten Black Country food firms have poor hygiene rating
More than one in 10 firms handling food in the Black Country are missing hygiene standards, new figures show.
The Food Hygiene Standards Agency rated 8,758 food businesses in the region in 2018-19 – and found 970 of them to be below the required hygiene level.
The figures include restaurants, takeaways, food manufacturers and distributors, which need to score at least a grade three on a 0-5 scale to be considered broadly compliant with hygiene law.
A total of 123 businesses were subject to formal action from the council or courts for breaching food hygiene levels, including 70 sanctions in Wolverhampton, 25 in Sandwell, 15 in Walsall and 13 in Dudley.
They include Indian buffet restaurant Johnny Spice in Wolverhampton, whose owner was fined £5,000 after health inspectors found mice and dirty conditions at the site.
And bosses at the Yummy Wok takeaway in Sedgley were forced to pay more than £6,000 this month after inspectors found a series of issues including rat droppings in the food store.
Restaurants and takeaways are required by law to display their rating at their entrance.
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.
As of March, there were 24 Black Country businesses placed in the most high-risk category – 14 of which had a hygiene rating of less than three.
In the Black Country 11 per cent of establishments failed to hit the target, higher than the national rate of nine per cent.
In Walsall 358 food outlets scored 2 or below (18 per cent), while in Wolverhampton 204 places (11 per cent) were below standard.
Outlets in Staffordshire fared better, with Stafford’s failure rate at five per cent, and just 30 businesses in South Staffordshire (three per cent) scoring less than a grade 3.
Maria Jennings, director of regulatory compliance of the Food Standards Agency, said: “Local authorities are there to ensure that food businesses produce food that is safe and what it says it is.
“One of the FSA’s roles is to have oversight and assurance about their performance.
“It is good to see an increase in the total percentage of planned hygiene interventions that local authorities are carrying out and an increase in premises with standards equivalent to a food hygiene rating of three, four and five.”
Sanctions placed on businesses can include cautions, hygiene improvement notices, prohibition orders to close a business, or stopping it from carrying out a particular activity, or to ban the owner from operating a food business. In the worst cases, emergency prohibition notices can immediately close a business due to imminent risk.
Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, council inspectors took enforcement actions against almost 160,000 establishments.
The proportion of businesses with a hygiene rating of at least three increased slightly, rising by 0.5 per cent compared to the previous year.