Anger at food rating scheme

Charlie Hodson, who runs the Avalon guesthouse in Whitby who is upset by his unfair food hygiene rating''w130412b
Charlie Hodson, who runs the Avalon guesthouse in Whitby who is upset by his unfair food hygiene rating''w130412b

A WHITBY B&B owner has slammed a food hygiene rating system which he claims has downgraded his premises because of a simple slip-up with paperwork.

In last Friday’s Whitby Gazette, we published scores under Scarborough Borough Council’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme for 1,500 catering establishments including all of the district’s hotels, B&Bs, restaurants pubs, bars and cafes that serve food.

Since their publication, Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) has issued an apology after wrongly saying Whitby’s Staircase Cafe in Golden Lion Bank was graded as one – instead of its correct score of five.

The mistake was due to an ‘administrative error’.

It also incorrectly listed four other premises with the wrong ratings, elsewhere in the borough.

Now Charlie Hodson (54) who runs the Avalon Hotel in Royal Crescent, said by simply forgetting to tick a box for his twice daily fridge checks last year, he has seen his initial score of four which he was given two years ago, plummet to one.

He fears the grade will have an adverse effect on his business, which is ranked 65th out of 130 B&Bs and inns on the Trip Advisor website and have awarded the Avalon a certificate of excellence for the past three years.

Mr Hodson, a former lifeboat volunteer from Cornwall, has run the busy guest house for the past two and a half years after spending decades in the catering industry.

He has ploughed thousands of pounds into it since he took it over to upgrade it.

“I’m really really annoyed, it’s my livelihood,” said Mr Hodson.

“My priority is the safety and enjoyment of my guests. I think it is unfair my score can go from a four to a one because I haven’t put a tick in the box.

“There is no problem with the hygiene of the premises. The place is spotless.”

John Purvis, chef at the Plough in Sleights, is also unhappy with his premises’ food hygiene rating of three.

Mr Purvis, an experienced butcher and cook, said their rating was out of date as the premises was graded back in January last year, two months before he started working there.

“I think it’s really poor,” he said. “If you get someone new into a businesses, you want to start from there. I didn’t know anything about the grading. I feel I’m running a five star rated establishment.

“It’s clean and tidy, everything is working, I think we are totally undergraded but there’s nothing I can do.

“I will have to wait as premises are graded every 18 months.”

Steve Pogson, health and community safety manager at SBC said it would like to apologise to the Staircase Cafe for the error and any inconvenience caused.

“We have now completely reviewed our systems to ensure this cannot happen again,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the council said under the scheme, food businesses can apply to have their premises re-rated when they have completed improvements between each full inspection and the new rating can then be updated on the Food Standards Agency website

She added failure to put in place adequate procedures including documentary evidence of the identification of food safety hazards and the monitoring of food safety controls will influence how confident the inspecting officer is in the business satisfactorily managing food safety.

She added The Avalon Hotel has now requested a revisit from the council’s food inspectors and added she would welcome The Plough in Sleights getting in touch with a view to taking this forward.