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Concern lockdown has caused food hygiene to slip at Warwickshire takeaways

Food hygiene standards appear to have slipped across the district during the pandemic with inspectors finding significant issues at some premises.

A Stratford District Council report published this week, detailing the work of the authority’s food safety team, revealed that between 23rd March and 10th June, 83 inspections have been carried out.

It details how a number of unannounced evening visits were made to takeaways in Studley and Alcester, but due to a lack of recent inspections, the standard in the majority of premises had fallen.

The report notes that the council is working with the operator of one business where significant issues were found to try to raise their standards.

Some food inspections have been taking place since the start of the pandemic, but there have been far fewer and Covid restrictions meant that they did not take place at all over some periods.

However, things are now getting back to normal with inspections resuming on an increased basis across the district, and the report concludes that generally food hygiene standards have declined.

With many having endured a long period of closure due to government restrictions, it is perhaps not surprising that it could take businesses a little time to get back to their previous standards.

Cllr Chris Mills, chairman of the district council’s regulatory committee, said: “It is disappointing to see that food hygiene standards have fallen in some areas of the district.

“For a large part of the past year, our environmental health team has been unable to carry out any inspections due to Covid restrictions and being deployed as part of the council’s covid response.

“However, our food team is now back inspecting premises as part of our statutory obligations and prioritising high-risk food visits.

“Any risks identified are being dealt with by the food business operator, to raise standards to a more acceptable level.

“It’s been an unprecedented year for everyone and the team is continuing to work exceptionally hard; working a normal day-shift and then on occasions working in the evenings to make visits representative to when the businesses are operating.

“The team has built up excellent working relationships with food establishments over the years and they strive to educate and encourage businesses, offering advice and assistance to all food businesses in the district and enforcement is the last resort.”

On the plus side, the report noted that two of the district’s highest approved food premises have been inspected recently and their impressive food standards were being maintained.

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