After suffering a very bad attack of food poisoning earlier in the year (which was, I’m afraid, attributed to a local restaurant) I am heartened to see that a new scheme has been setup to rate the hygiene in all food premises in our area.
The Tees Valley Food Hygiene Award scheme is being policed jointly by the councils in Hartlepool, Darlington, Middlesbrough,Stockton and Redcar & Cleveland. It aims to visit food outlets of all types to ensure that they meet at least basic hygiene levels.
Scores are given in three areas: – Food Hygiene & Safety, Structure & Cleaning and Management & Control. These are then added together to give a level of compliance and a table is then consulted to give a ‘star rating’ between zero and five:
Level of Compliance Star rating
Very Good 4
Major improvements Required 0
A certificate is then presented to the premises and the results displayed on a website:
Subsequently the certificates can be displayed in each food outlet but the thing to be aware of is that the owners do not have to display them… so if you can’t see the certificate displayed proudly on the wall then beware! You may be in a low star or even a no star establishment – so run outside straightaway and get yourself hosed down with disinfectant.
Personally I will be using this scheme to help me decide where to go for a Friday night meal or to give me an indication of where to get a sandwich that’s safe to munch on. I would humbly suggest that you do the same – Vote with your money and spend it in the safest places to eat… at least three stars or above.
Just for ease of selection I offer you the list of the 27 places in Hartlepool which have no stars and so have to make major improvements:
Bacio Pizzeria, Dalton Lodge, Lifestyle Express, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Golden River, Chinese Buffet, Powlett News, Indian Cottage, Mas Agraa Palace, Blue Bell Inn, Silver Star, Lister News, Athena, The Shakespeare, UK Pizzeria, Cafe India, Deen’s Bakery, The Schooner, Sorrento, Premier Newsagents, Trina’s Kitchen, Pizza Time, Owton Manor Bakers & Deli, Ali Food Store, Pricewatch Supermarket, Manns, The Vineyard.
The hopeful outcome from this scheme is that it will be instrumental in prompting businesses with low star ratings to improve themselves… as everyone will want to visit a five star business to get their food – and to be honest that is what we should all expect. We have to trust a food outlet with our health and we should not have to worry that they are betraying that trust.
To balance things, here’s the list of 28 places that got five stars:
Morrisons Petrol Filling Station, Lindisfarne, Ward Jackson Primary School, Stitchell House – Hospital of God, Vue Cinema, Greggs (Catcote Road), Pizza Hut, Violet Tanning Studios (eh?), Rainbow Day Nursery, North Star, Focus DIY (eh again?), Starfish Daycare, Argos (well known for gourmet food this), Marks & Spencer, Burger King, Clinton Cards (fancy a wedding card spread with jam anyone?) , Vantage Pharmacy, Aldi, Morrisons Supermarket, Hart Primary School, McDonalds (Burn Road), Aldi, M. Whitfield Chemist, King John’s Tavern, South Highnam, Power Station Canteen, Savers, Hartlepool and District Hospice.
What a strange list eh? Most of Hartlepool’s big reputation restaurants are missing… but if you visit the website above and spend a few minutes having a trawl then you’ll see that most have 3 or 4 stars and so, according to the ratings system, are at least good and maybe very good in some cases.
The list of premises with no stars contains the restaurant that gave both me and Mrs Headlander food poisoning. Let’s hope this will at least make that particular place improve… I’ll be monitoring this closely!
When we discussed this in the Pint & Fight, Landlord Hugh came up with a cracker of a little joke:
The Osbournes go out for a meal, when the waiter comes up he asks Sharon how she wants her steak done.
“Oh, medium rare please.” she says
“And the vegetables?”
She sweeps her hand in a gesture round the table as Ozzy and her brood nod;
“Oh, they have it the same way as me.”