Truth, Lies & Utter Confusion in UK Food Hygiene

In the latest research by KwikChex - into thousands of online allegations of food poisoning, the results showed some eyebrow-raising statistics and cases.

There are certainly well over 100,000 online allegations of food poisoning in the UK alone.

Of 200 cases where KwikChex has been asked for assistance by business owners claiming false allegations, there was not a single proven case. The majority had excellent official hygiene ratings, several had been proven false and some were the work of disgruntled former employees. But the problem with the great majority was that no reports were made to local health authorities.

Leading food hygiene / microbiologists all urge caution regarding food poisoning accusations and assumptions - as it is certainly often not the place first presumed guilty that is the cause.

The Food Standards Agency official food hygiene ratings are available to the public, but few seem to know about them. In a survey of consumers less than 10% knew of the resource. Some statistics from the site are alarming - or possibly controversial.

Examples

Official Hygiene Ratings info

Kebabs - often joked about as the 'dodgiest' food, searching ratings using this term shows that out of the 1500 businesses returned in the search, 31% are below satisfactory standard - scoring 2 or below in the inspection ratings

Takeaways - taking the above one step further, looking at over 8,000 takeaways, 21% show a failure to meet satisfactory standards.

Hospitals, care homes and nursery schools - the people being looked after in this group are some of the most vulnerable to food poisoning, with potentially fatal risks involved. 663 in the UK show as failures. These include many where other inspectors such as Care Quality Commission and Ofsted have given high marks, but there are apparently conflicting indications of standards in food hygiene - with again apparently, no tie up between the agencies.

Regional - We are still conducting research, but have found some regions (local authority areas) to have very high failure rates, such as Croydon, where 28% of restaurants were rated 2 or below.- and where 13 are showing as a zero rating. Westminster appears to have the highest number of zero ratings - 23.

Retail - food shops. We found that out of nearly 500 results for Costcutter stores in the UK, 21% were below satisfactory.

Rat-infested restaurant - to give an idea of what the ratings could potentially mean - see this story http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/news/9706064.Rat_infested_restaurant_fined/ - the restaurant currently has a '1' hygiene rating. Another twist is that it ranks positive in online reviews. We can show you many examples where businesses with high reviews site ratings are failing official hygiene inspections. The other thing we have discovered is how long the rogue businesses seem to be able to carry on trading even without improvement. See another example -

http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/9816057.Dirty_restaurant_fined___44_000/

But many business owners are also claiming that they have been given the same sort of low ratings for documentation infringements - and that having complied within days, they are still awaiting re-inspection to lift their rating.

As always with online content, the truth is definitely out there - but it's not necessarily what the average consumers will see in standard search results. KwikChex has created a website to assist both consumers and businesses that have been unfairly attacked - www.foodpoisoninghelp.info. Hopefully, more consumers will report suspected cases immediately and businesses will be able to take decisive action when falsely accused.

Chris Emmins
Co-Founder KwikChex

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