Stars are out as food standards improve

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A FOOD standard scheme has seen the number of premises receiving good grades rocket by more than 30 per cent since it was launched.

Environmental health officers from Hartlepool Borough Council have inspected hundreds of premises in town this year as part of the Tees Valley Food Hygiene Award.

The scheme covers cafes, restaurants, take-aways, supermarkets, catering suppliers and butchers.

Businesses are given a star rating from five (excellent) to zero (major improvements needed) by inspectors depending on the hygiene conditions, the structure and cleanliness of premises and confidence in management.

When the scheme was launched in April 2007, 405 premises out of 759 – or 55 per cent – received three stars or above.

But that has risen to 641 out of the 718 premises inspected this year, which is 89.3 per cent.

Council officers have welcomed the figures and say they are pleased the number of businesses being awarded five stars has risen too – from 33.4 per cent last year to 40.2 per cent this time around.

Sylvia Pinkney, the council’s public protection manager, said: “While the number of premises awarded three stars and above is similar to the previous year, 89.3 per cent compared to 89.8 per cent in 2009-10, it is pleasing to note that there has been a significant increase in the proportion of five star ratings, a 6.8 per cent increase from 2009-10.”

In total, 77 premises received two stars or less.

Public health inspectors will continue to work with other premises to boost their rating and officers will write to businesses that have been given two stars or fewer to offer advice and support.

The food hygiene award is a five-year rolling programme with regular inspections of premises depending on their level of risk.

It has been established by councils in Hartlepool, Redcar, Middlesbrough and Stockton.

Residents can view the ratings via the council’s website and businesses are given certificates to display on their premises.

It has also been revealed that no formal action was taken against any traders during the Tall Ships event, which was held in Hartlepool last August.

During the event, 112 inspections and 16 revisits were carried out plus a further 20 at the Headland Carnival, which was taking place on the same weekend.

To find out star ratings for premises in town, log onto www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk.