COUNCIL chiefs say there has been a drop in food hygiene standards after the latest round of inspections of food businesses in York.

The City of York Council, which conducts food hygiene inspections and gives an overall rating to the businesses, has recorded a slight reduction in standards over the past two years.

However, food inspectors have seen a rise in businesses requesting an optional 'dummy inspection' to receive tailored advice on how to improve ahead of the hygiene rating.

Anthony Dean, acting public protection manager at the council, said: "The reduction in standards is possibly resulting from factors such as the impact of Brexit on numbers of workers available to work in the food sector, lack of suitably trained chefs and staff, and closure of businesses due to financial difficulties.

"We find that businesses, especially new businesses, that take part in these pre-hygiene visits generally do much better in their actual inspections.

"These visits are entirely voluntary, and undertaken on cost recovery basis, but the feedback from businesses is that they are very helpful."

There have been fewer inspections than normal carried out over the past two years, but the council says it is working to the Food Standards Agency’s national recovery plan to get back on track.

Of the 1,813 food businesses registered to the food hygiene scheme in York, 97.3 per cent have received a food hygiene rating score of three or above, meaning they are broadly compliant, with 74.7 per cent being awarded the highest rating of five stars.

York Press:

Mr Dean said: “We normally carry out 1,000 inspections a year, with businesses that pose a higher risk inspected more often than businesses that pose a lower risk, for example a small retailer selling a range of prepacked foods that only need to be refrigerated.

“The time between inspections varies from six months for the highest risk businesses to two years or more for lower risk businesses.

"Under food hygiene law all food premises are required to receive a food inspection to ensure that they are operating safely and to protect public health."

York Press: York food business see fall in hygiene standards. Picture: Getty ImagesYork food business see fall in hygiene standards. Picture: Getty Images

The potential risk to public health is determined by: the type of food that is handled, the number and type of customers, such as vulnerable groups, types of processes carried out before food is served, and hygiene standards seen on the inspection.

Mr Dean added: “York is a great place to eat out, and consumers rely on high standards of food hygiene at the premises they use.

“Our inspections with the advice and guidance we offer to all food-related businesses, support responsible business owners while helping to identify those that need to improve.”

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