BACTERIA-RIDDEN meat, dead insects in cupboards, products past their use-by dates and a dog in a food preparation area were among the reasons for some of the lowest food hygiene scores in North Devon and Torridge.
Cigarette butts in toilets, uncovered raw fish, training manuals completed in Chinese and poor personal hygiene were also mentioned in Environmental Health reports obtained by the Journal.
North Devon Council and Torridge District Council have released the full food hygiene inspection reports for all 26 businesses which currently have a rating of one or zero.
In North Devon 23 businesses failed to score two or more.
The Big Apple shop at The Candar in Ilfracombe received a rating of zero when it was inspected in January. The report stated there were cigarette butts in the toilet, products beyond their use-by dates and temperature control issues.
It also said there were staff training problems, poor personal hygiene and no sink for washing up.
The business was advised to make urgent improvements.
The Beach Box ice cream kiosk on Marine Parade in Instow also scored zero when it was rated in July last year.
The Environmental Health officer reported finding a dog in the food room and said the employee was not aware this was not permitted.
The report stated there was plant growth coming through a window and the toilet, which was full of urine, would not flush.
North Devon Council said since its intervention at the Beach Box, the premises had remained closed as a food business. A further 21 businesses in North Devon received a score of one. Reasons included poor record keeping, faulty taps, cracked tiles, peeling paint, poor storage of raw meat, mouldy food in fridges, misshapen eggs and dirty cloths.
In Torridge, three businesses in Bideford were given a rating of one.
Roosters in Allhalland Street was inspected in November last year.
The inspector highlighted problems at Roosters, such as poor cleaning and dead spiders and woodlice in a cupboard.
The inspector said that everything was "grubby and greasy".
The inspector also found out of date clotted cream in the fridge and they felt "some of the cloths were not helping to prevent cross contamination".
A swab showed there was excessive amounts of bacteria on a chopping board.
Michelle Taylor Catering at The Anchor Inn in Honestone Street was also inspected in November last year.
The inspector said the ice machine needed to be cleaned to remove mould and that the floor in the bar presented a tripping hazard.
Paramount Chinese in Bridgeland Street was inspected in October last year.
The inspector found high levels of E.Coli and Listeria in both chicken and pork on the premises.
The inspector also noted the safer food better business pack had been written in Chinese. A translated version was needed for employees who might not have Chinese as their first language.
There was also no hand soap at the hand wash basin, or any hygienic means to dry hands.
Scores on the doors:
The following businesses were given a rating of zero:
Beach Box ice cream kiosk, Instow
The Big Apple, The Candar, Ilfracombe
The following businesses were given a rating of one:
Braunton Laundry, Caen Street, Braunton
C.A.N. Play Bluecoats after school childcare, Pilton, Barnstaple
Ilfracombe Town Football Club
The Old Thatched Inn, Ilfracombe
The Stag’s Head, Bear Street, Barnstaple
Trinity Stores, Barnstaple
Treat Yourself, Unit 13 Green Lanes, Barnstaple
Waterloo House Hotel, Lynton
Witheridge Sports Club
Strand Fish Bar and Kebab, Barnstaple
Sandaway Shop, Berrynarbor
The Royal Marine, Combe Martin
Riverside Caravan and Camping Park, North Molton
Laceys Tea Rooms, Lynton
Lou’s Snack Bar at South Molton Rugby Club
Masala, Pilton, Barnstaple
Old Coach House Tea Rooms, Lynton
Park Retail, Combe Martin Beach Holiday Parc
Chefs Corner, Ilfracombe Holiday Park
DNY Food & Wine, Barnstaple
Michelle Taylor Catering at The Anchor Inn, Bideford
Paramount Chinese, Bideford
Here's what the businesses had to say:
Philip Charalambous, owner of The Big Apple in Ilfracombe said he had only been in the shop for a few months at the time of the inspection.
He said: “I was still getting organised after fairly major decoration and shop fitting work.
“With regard to food, 95 per cent of our business is alcohol related and any food in the fridges is pre-packed.
“Fridges and their contents are rigorously monitored accordingly to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) daily record logs.”
Sarah Pearce, owner of Thistledean bed and breakfast in Braunton, did not understand the food hygiene rating at first.
She said: “Our rating was due to our record keeping, we actually have a very clean premises.
“We have since done a lot to improve our record keeping but we haven’t got round to requesting another hygiene visit.”
Paul O’Neill, owner of the Waterloo House Hotel in Lynton, said the main problem with his premises was record keeping.
He said: “We’re a brand new business, our first season was last summer. We had one problem with meat and vegetables being together in the fridge, but we separated them straight away. We also had a problem with peeling paint, but this has been rectified.
“Environmental Health said they would return in six weeks for another inspection, but I’m still waiting, I should have a four or five star rating by now.
“We have dinner awards for our restaurant-standard food and we are very particular about the cleanliness of the hotel.”
Matthew Hayne, co-chairman of Ilfracombe Town Football Club, said their rating was due to a lack of temperature record keeping.
He said: “However, we implemented a system for this within days of the visit, and it is still in place now. There are no problems with hygiene or cleanliness in our kitchen and I have requested the council pay us another visit.”
Athos Pittordou, a director of the Community Arts Network, which runs a play group at Pilton Bluecoats School, said: “We do sandwiches and toast, so our ingredients are only ever jam, chocolate spread and Marmite.
“We are not allowed to use the kitchen so we make up the sandwiches on the table in the hall.
“Whether it was that they didn’t like I don’t know.”
Pilton Bluecoat School would like to highlight that CAN play operate as an independent organisation and the results of this report in no way reflect the school’s own kitchen which has a five-star rating.
The Royal Marine, Combe Martin: Mervyn Lethaby, owner of The Royal Marine, explained his pub was previously rated as a five, but was only dropped for a number of minor reasons which have been rectified.
Mr Lethaby said the hygiene inspector was due back at the beginning of May, but had not yet been back.
“With the new stricter marking there will be a lot of places downgraded that shouldn’t be,” he said.
“The main issue for us was the fridge seals, and I have spent £500 replacing them all.”
Mr Lethaby added the rating did not affect the amount of customers visiting the pub.
“People still came to us because they know the high level of hygiene we run and our great food.”
A staff member at Laceys Tea Rooms in Lynton explained the premises were run seasonally and their inspection was done before the shop had opened. Another inspection is due to take place soon.
Damien Smith, manager of Roosters in Bideford, said many improvements had been made since the inspection last year.
He said: “All the things which were listed have been done. We are waiting for the next inspection.
“The inspector said we should be rated as four. We weren’t expecting the low rating, it was a shock but we have retiled and everything now.”
Maria Silva, landlady of The Anchor Inn, said the pub has not been offering food for six months.
She said: “We were using Michelle Taylor, but that stopped at the beginning of the year. I have got all the information from the council about hygiene so that if we start doing food again we are prepared.”
John Dennam, a member of staff at Treat Yourself in Green Lanes, said the stall is due to close down in the next week.
“The lease ran out a week ago,” he said, “but they’ve negotiated another week. Then it’s being shut so there’s not much to say.”
Although the Paramount Chinese restaurant in Bideford had been giving a rating of one at its inspection last year, the premises was revisited by inspectors on May 15 and has been upgraded to a rating of two.
Torridge District Council confirmed the premises was now generally clean and tidy.
A cashier at the business, who did not want to be named, said: “The inspectors seemed a lot happier with it. In the kitchen the right hand wash is now used and things like that.”
Nicky Penfold, from Riverside Caravan and Camping Park said: “We are waiting to be re-rated as everything at the park has completely changed since last year.
“We were part time, but now we are full time and we have worked really hard to build up the business.”
The manager of Masala, on Pilton Street in Barnstaple, said his restaurant’s low rating was due to administrative problems.
Monzur Rahman said: “We got marked down for not filling in our records properly.
“Your kitchen can be the most pristine in the world but if you don’t fill in a pack every day saying you’ve done your opening and closing checks you automatically lose about three stars.
“Without that we’d have scored around the four mark. The pack is the killer.”
He also said he is expecting inspectors back at the restaurant soon, as the recording issues have been tackled.
Near buy, on Newport Road in Barnstaple, is under new ownership.
It received its score of one star while trading as DNY Food and Wine.
Mary Holland, whose daughter has now taken on the lease with her husband, said she was unaware of any food hygiene rating for the premises.
She also said everything at the store is in order since it was taken over at the start of April.
The leaseholder at Trinity Stores, John Toothill, said he wasn’t sure why the business had scored a rating of one.
“I had no input with the business,” he said, “So I couldn’t tell you why it got that score.”
He also said the business is now shut down and up for sale.
Andrew Bates runs the Sandaway Shop in Berrynarbor and Park Retail at Combe Martin Beach Holiday Park and is insistent both premises received a hygiene rating of five.
However North Devon Council have confirmed the ratings they hold are a one for each restaurant.
Lynne Harker, manager at the Old Thatched Inn in Ilfracombe, said the only reason they had been rated as a one was because the kitchen had failed to keep their books up to date, indicating that morning and afternoon hygiene checks had been carried out.
She said they were given a three month deadline from February 27 to make the necessary changes, including installing a new sink, and then a second inspection would be carried out.
Lynne added that the premises has not suffered from having a rating of one.
“We have a really busy weekend,” she explained. “Nobody has said anything. Our customers still come in. Everybody knows the food is good and kitchens are clean and tidy.”
Mr Perry, licensee of The Stag’s Head on Bear Street in Barnstaple, claimed his pub doesn’t need a hygiene certificate.
“We don’t sell food,” he said. “So we don’t have one.
“We don’t need one.”
Harun Akar, manager of The Strand Fish Bar and Kebab Shop, said he had only recently taken over the business.
“We’re trying to improve the business and provide good customer service,” he said.
“Part of that is having a thorough cleaning process.”
Kay Louise Hulland of Lou’s snack bar at South Molton Rugby Club said: “The reason I only got a rating of one is because I had not filled out the food diary fully.
“The van was broken into last September and everything was stolen, including the diary so they had to give us a rating of one for that reason.
“Everything is now back to normal and we have no issues with our hygiene.”
The Journal contacted the owners of Braunton Laundry, which sells eggs, but it did not wish to comment.
The Journal also tried to contact the following businesses, however a spokesman could not be reached for comment: the Beach Box ice cream kiosk at Sandhills car park in Instow, Chef’s Corner at Ilfracombe Holiday Park, Park Retail at Combe Martin Beach Holiday Park and the Old Coach House Tea Rooms, Lynton.
How does the National Food Hygiene Rating system work?
Food premises are rated against a scoring system in the Food Law Code of Practice produced by the Food Standards Agency.
Each premises is placed into a risk category which decides the frequency of visits.
Category A is the highest risk with visits every six months, category B is every 12 months, category C is every 18 months, category D is every two years and category E premises are subject to a self-assessment questionnaire by post.
North Devon Council employs two full-time environmental health officers and one full-time food safety officer.
Torridge District Council employs one part-time environmental health officer, one part-time food inspector, a part time food sampling officer and full-time manager.
There are 1,418 rated premises in North Devon and 846 in Torridge.
A spokesman for both councils said: “Premises will gain a rating of one for not having a documented food safety system, though everything else at the premises can be of a high standard.
“Some of the premises with a one rating fall into this category.
“They have not been followed up as they are low risk premises and do not warrant a revisit.
“They will be rescored at their next programmed inspection or can request a revisit prior to this if they wish to do so.”
Councillor Andy Boyd, Torridge’s lead member for health and community safety, said: “The teams at both councils work extremely hard to keep the public safe when eating out.
“The figures tell us that both areas are well ahead of the national average in terms of food premises rated highly in the scheme.
“I think this is a reflection not only on the good work carried out by officers, but also on how lucky we are here to have such responsible business owners who consistently maintain high standards in their premises.”
Last week North Devon Council announced that two North Devon post codes were placed in the UK’s top ten for areas with the best food hygiene ratings.
Following a national investigation by consumer champion Which? food outlets in Barnstaple (EX31) came joint first with an average score of 4.9 out of 5.
Meanwhile, Braunton (EX33) came joint second, with an average of 4.8 out of 5.
For more information about food hygiene ratings visit www.food..uk/ratings.