Calls have been made to immediately shut down food outlets which receive a ‘zero’ food hygiene rating in Hyndburn.
Councillor Malcolm Pritchard urged the council to introduce the policy following exclusive figures reported in the Observer last year.
We revealed how 20 establishments across the borough carried the lowest possible rating by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) - a five-fold increase on the same survey of figures in August 2015.
A question posed at a recent council meeting by Coun Pritchard stated: “Does the leader of the council agree with me that food outlets that get a zero rating on food hygiene should be shut down on grounds of public health?”
Coun Pritchard added: “I would like to thank the Accrington Observer for fetching us this detail.
“The people of Hyndburn deserve better than having these premises on zero or one ratings. Everybody in Hyndburn wants better standards of takeaways etc.
"It’s up to us to fetch this into the domain and look after our public in Hyndburn.”
Leader Miles Parkinson said the council only had powers to close a food establishment where there is evidence of an ‘immediate risk’ or ‘actual contamination’.
He told the meeting: “It’s an important issue. Everyone wants to go to establishments and to be fully knowledgeable of the quality of the food and the safety in purchasing that.
“But there are priorities for the environmental health department and there are laws on enforcement regarding other criteria.
"Officers need to be able to demonstrate that there is an immediate risk, actual contamination and the evidence is taken to a magistrate to obtain an order if they are satisfied with the evidence.
“We cannot formally close a premises that achieves a zero unless there is evidence of risk
or actual contamination. If this was to happen and the magistrates didn’t agree with the evidence submitted the council would liable to pay compensation costs for the time the business was closed.”
Coun Parkinson said the FSA scheme already encourages residents to buy food at better rated outlets.
He said: “If you are a paying customer and you go down the high street where do you want to purchase your produce from? Is it from someone who scores five or zero? It’s a bit like going on TripAdvisor.”
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