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