Express & Star

Award-winning restaurant vows return to 'highest standard' after zero hygiene rating shock

The owners of a well-loved Cannock pub and restaurant were shocked to receive a zero hygiene rating in their latest inspection.

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The Rag Country Inn, Rawnsley

The Rag Country Inn, on Ironstone Road, Rawnsley, is popular among locals, so it came as a shock to the owners when they were handed the lowest rating possible. The eatery and inn has previously been presented with an award by celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, and boasts a number of outstanding reviews online.

In its last inspection in March, the inspector found food stored on the floor of the walk-in fridge, and had a problem with the lack of records detailing shelf life of vacuum packed products.

They also noted that one chef was not wearing an apron, and failed to take records of cooking, cooling and reheating temperatures, as well as probe calibration. Probes used to check the temperature of foods must be calibrated so that the readings are accurate, as inaccurate temperatures could result in illness.

However, owners Mike and Stephanie Benniston ensured a rapid turnaround, and said Cannock Chase District Council had signed off on corrective measures to ensure the safety of the establishment.

Mike said: "Our previous hygiene rating was the maximum score of 5, and so of course the report at the start of March came as a complete shock and was severely disappointing. The Rag is an establishment which my wife and I have put almost 20 years of blood, sweat and tears into, and we have created a successful culinary experience at affordable prices.

"Neither my wife nor I were present during the visit on March 2, which was without notice. Since the inspection, I have returned to the kitchen as head chef.

"We have been working very closely with Cannock Chase Council to ensure the points that were highlighted have been remedied to the highest standard. These corrective measures have been signed off by Cannock Chase Council and we now await the re-inspection.

"We pride ourselves on food hygiene, and the corrective measures that have been presented to our business were put into immediate effect. We are confident that our high food hygiene rating will return and stay with us for many years to come as it has over the last 20 years.”