In the ELL boroughs, 793 restaurants hold a fail grade from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) at the time of writing. Of the 9,688 restaurants and supermarkets in the boroughs, the number that has received a fail grade make up around 8 per cent, nearly double the national average of 4.5 per cent.
More importantly, readers of Eastlondonlines are being misled. Under the current structure, a consumer could be frequenting a restaurant that has failed FSA standards in one of our boroughs without realising.
To better understand the impact of a fail grade, Eastlondonlines has conducted an investigation into low-scoring eateries across the capital. Over the coming days, you will hear from all sides of the argument, including but not limited to; FSA officials, restaurateurs and Eastlondonlines readers.
Borough by borough, Eastlondonlines has plotted all FSA reviewed establishments in the area and highlighted them based on individual ratings. Want to know how your favourite takeaway fared? Find out below:
In Croydon, a total of 2,665 restaurants have been FSA reviewed. Of those, 189 received a score of two or lower which equates to a fail, while 16 restaurants have a zero mark. At the time of writing, the popular South London chicken shop chain Morley’s has a total of five failing restaurants in the borough.
In Hackney 2,354 restaurants have been FSA reviewed, 193 received a score of two or lower and seven restaurants received a zero mark. One surprise inclusion was the Cat & Mutton; an upmarket pub that boasts £18 ribeye steaks on its menu. It was a finalist at the London Food Awards in 2017 and is positively reviewed by customers online, despite having an FSA score of one.
As for Lewisham, 2,107 restaurants have been FSA reviewed to date. A total of 161 of those received a score of two or lower and seven received a zero mark. Among the fails is the supermarket Costcutter in Sydenham, which received an FSA score of two.
Lastly, Tower Hamlets have 2,542 FSA reviewed restaurants of which 250 received a score of two or lower and 9 received a zero mark. In Canary Wharf, the Carluccio’s restaurant has been failed by the FSA after gaining a score of two. The popular high street chain has recently undergone a refurbishment and is usually busy with business lunches and dinner dates during the week.
After a fail grade, an establishment is usually subject to a follow-up inspection and is required to address urgent concerns within 28 days of the initial visit. At this point, the business can then either pay £160 to be reassessed or wait until its next scheduled inspection, usually about six months later, where it has the chance to improve its score.
The FSA gives businesses a rating from five to zero which is displayed at their premises and online so the public can make more informed choices about where to buy and eat food.
5 – hygiene standards are very good
4 – hygiene standards are good
3 – hygiene standards are generally satisfactory
2 – some improvement is necessary
1 – major improvement is necessary
0 – urgent improvement is required
At an inspection, three elements are checked; how hygienically the food is handled, the physical condition of the business and how the business manages ways of keeping food safe.
Complaints by the public can also lead to inspections, however many of the restaurants in the failed category have positive customer feedback online, especially those part of a wider chain of restaurants.
An FSA spokesperson told Eastlondonlines, “All businesses should be able to achieve the top rating of 5. If they do not, the food safety officer will outline the improvements that they need to make and advise on how to achieve a higher rating.” Therefore, the FSA and the local authorities do much more than blindly inspect and critique businesses.
A zero-rating signifies the establishment “urgently requires improvement.” All ratings across our boroughs have been issued over the last 18 months. Each local food authority is responsible for ranking food providers within its boundaries. Therefore, all FSA reports in your area are held by the council. Between zero and two is considered a failing grade, and three to five is satisfactory.
The FSA say they are “committed to making the display of food hygiene ratings mandatory in England, just as it already is in Wales and Northern Ireland.” Most failing restaurants in the Eastlondonlines boroughs do not disclose their FSA ratings to consumers.
This is day one of our series on food hygiene. Check out the rest of the series here #foodforthought