1. ITV Report

One in three food businesses in Wales warned over hygiene practices

More than a third of all food businesses in Wales have been warned about their food hygiene practices in the last year.

Credit: ITV Wales

Figures from the Food Standards Agency reveal that of the 34,655 registered food establishments in Wales, 12,499 have been subject to enforcement actions for not complying with food hygiene laws.

The majority of those businesses were given written warnings. But nearly 500 received tougher penalties like cautions, closures and prosecutions, a rise on the year before.

increase in number of customers reporting complaints to councils about food and hygiene standards

The head of the Food Standards Agency in Wales has told ITV Cymru Wales that it can be “a challenge” to keep on top of hygiene offences.

But Nina Purcell added that systems like the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and environmental health inspections are driving up food safety practices.

You can never say that on any day everything is going to be perfect. Food business operators need to make sure food is safe every single day of the week.

So it can be a good day, a bad day, it can be a member of staff who doesn’t feel that good and lets something slip. But the system is rigorous and keeps a focus on it.

– Nina Purcell, Food Standards Agency in Wales
Credit: Swansea Environmental Health

In the year 2016-17, local authorities in Wales prosecuted 25 food businesses for serious hygiene offences, an increase on the previous year.

In September the owners of First Stop, a convenience store in Welshpool, were fined more than £43,000 for 13 separate hygiene offences, including failing to control pests on the premises.

There was damaged packaging which showed signs of being chewed by rats. There was spilled food on the shelves which showed signs of rat damage. Underneath the shelves there were lots of rat droppings. At that point that I was getting quite concerned about what I was finding.

– Samuel Lauder, Powys Council Environmental Health

In Wales all food businesses receive council inspections. They are scored on how they prepare, cook and store food, the conditions of the premises and food safety management.

Establishments are rated from 0 to 5. The higher the number, the better the hygiene standards.

Credit: Gwynedd Council

The majority of food businesses here are rated 3 or above. But an investigation by ITV’s Wales This Week programme has uncovered offences ranging from businesses displaying a higher rating than their actual score, to establishments not displaying their sticker at all.

When the programme contacted 22 food outlets with a 1 hygiene rating, a third of the businesses gave untrue details about their scores.

Wales This Week also discovered takeaways selling customers food that was not as described and which contained hidden ingredients.

You can see more on this story in Wales This Week: The Truth About Takeaways. Tonight at 8pm on ITV Cymru Wales.