Improving food safety standards in North Tyneside

Our environmental health team in North Tyneside uncovered inadequate procedures at a Chinese takeaway in Wallsend, which has since admitted for a series of food safety and hygiene offences.

North Tyneside Council’s environmental health service is delivered on behalf of the local authority as part of the Capita-North Tyneside Council partnership. Part of this role involves the management of the food safety team whose primary purpose is to protect the health and wellbeing of people in the borough by ensuring the safety and quality of food produced, prepared, distributed and supplied. This is achieved through a combination of education, promotion and enforcement.

There are around 1,450 food businesses in the borough, which are all are scored against a risk- rating scheme, categorised from A to E. Businesses in category A are higher risk premises and are inspected every six months while those categorised as E are inspected every three years. Around half of the food establishments are catering premises, such as cafes, restaurants and takeaways, which are categorised as C and inspected every 18 months.

Improving standards

The team proactively works with new businesses to ensure they are aware of legal requirements and can direct them to appropriate information and resources. They also ensure that all complaints are investigated promptly. The depth and scope of the investigation is determined by the seriousness of the complaint and the risk posed to public health.

Food safety in action

Following a routine inspection of a Chinese takeaway in the Wallsend area of North Tyneside, the environmental health service found that inadequate procedures had been put in place for the control of pests.

The inspector found dirty surfaces and equipment as well as no satisfactory cleaning procedures or systems in place.

Evidence of rat droppings were found on the floor, fixtures and equipment. In addition, the rats had chewed door frames and caused holes in walls and skirting boards and there was evidence that the vermin had been climbing a door leading to a staff toilet.

The business was temporarily closed to enable immediate action to be taken to address the rat activity and for the premises to be cleaned.

In August 2016, the matter was taken to court and the operator admitted four offences under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 and was fined £1,000 with £175 costs and a £100 victim surcharge. Following a further inspection in February 2016, the premises remains open for business and the environmental health team is continuing to work with the operator to improve standards.

“We are committed to supporting local businesses. However, when there are unacceptable risks to public health, enforcement action will be taken to protect the interests of consumers and maintain food safety.”

Cllr John Harrison, Cabinet Member for Housing and Transport, North Tyneside Council