Nearly two thirds of our food out­lets get warn­ing from town hall of­fi­cials

Rochdale Observer - - SPORTS AND CULTURE AWARDS - @PaulBrit­tonMEN.

NEARLY two thirds of all food es­tab­lish­ments in Rochdale have re­ceived writ­ten warn­ings from the coun­cil in a year.

Exclusive anal­y­sis of Food Stan­dards Agency (FSA) data re­veals 993 es­tab­lish­ments were sent warn­ing let­ters by town hall of­fi­cials for po­ten­tially breach­ing strict stan­dards.

The warn­ings can cover a va­ri­ety of leg­is­la­tion breaches - from poor hy­giene to pa­per­work and doc­u­ment er­rors.

As well as restau­rants, shops, stores, take­aways and cater­ers, the data also cov­ers pro­duc­ers, man­u­fac­tur­ers, distrib­u­tors and re­tail­ers of food.

There are 1,610 reg­is­tered food es­tab­lish­ments in Rochdale, and 62 per cent - 993 busi­nesses - were sent writ­ten warn­ings in 2016/17. Coun­cil bosses said the rate of let­ters ‘was not a neg­a­tive’ as it showed how they reg­u­larly give advice to help busi­nesses. The bor­ough has ‘a thriv­ing food econ­omy’, they added.

Along with sim­ple cau­tions, for­mal ac­tion can in­clude the vol­un­tary clo­sure of a business, the seizure of food or in the most se­vere cases of food hy­giene or other heath and safety breaches, the sus­pen­sion or re­vo­ca­tion of a li­cence.

The num­ber of writ­ten warn­ings works out at 62 per cent of all Rochdale’s food es­tab­lish­ments - the sec­ond high­est pro­por­tion in the coun­try, and more than twice as high as the na­tional av­er­age.

Across the UK 161,845 food-re­lated busi­nesses re­ceived a warn­ing from their lo­cal coun­cils - 26 per cent of the to­tal num­ber of es­tab­lish­ments qual­i­fy­ing.

A Rochdale Coun­cil spokes­woman said: “We do not see our rate of let­ters to busi­nesses as a neg­a­tive as we give food busi­nesses advice at every in­spec­tion /in­ter­ven­tion and the way we record this advice is in line with the Food Stan­dards Agency def­i­ni­tions. Last year we com­pleted 100pc of our in­spec­tion pro­gramme, which not all au­thor­i­ties have achieved. We are re­ally proud of this and it gives peo­ple con­fi­dence in our es­tab­lish­ments that they are be­ing checked.

“It is also re­ally en­cour­ag­ing that we have 91pc of busi­nesses com­pli­ant/ broadly com­pli­ant which clearly demon­strates to ef­fec­tive­ness of our in­for­ma­tion and in­ter­ven­tions.

“We are pleased that busi­nesses within the Rochdale Bor­ough are im­prov­ing and it’s great to see a thriv­ing food econ­omy in our bor­ough.”

●●Olivia Cooke and Tom Bate­man in the new ITV adap­ta­tion of Van­ity Fair

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