Poor standards in Peterborough’s food and catering industry saw around 130 warnings issued by environmental health teams last year.
An environmental health chief at Peterborough City Council has said that on the whole, city businesses which either produce or sell food often struggle to meet hygiene or health and safety standards.
Pest infestations; a lack of hot or even running water; contaminated food and dirty premises have all prompted warnings from the council and officers have the power to immediately shut down a business if there is a serious risk to public health.
In 2011, around 130 warning notices were issued to catering or food businesses.
There are 1,800 food businesses registered in the council area, some of which will be inspected every six or 12 months, but others will only be inspected every two or three years.
Samantha Olive, the principal environmental health officer at the council, said that with a large number of ethnic eateries, retailers and food producers based in the city, the language barrier can often present a problem for business owners who fail to realise they have to meet certain regulations.
She said: “We do tend to have high risk in Peterborough simply because of the population of the city and huge number of businesses.
“Then there are ethnic businesses which have language problems and basically our team has to make them aware of all the enforcement action that could be taken.”
Ms Olive stressed that for the most part, the environmental health team will work closely with owners to rectify the issues before more drastic measures have to be taken, such as closure or prosecution.
But in some cases, such as Ariana fishmongers in Lincoln Road recently, where the risk to public health was deemed to be present, officers can shut down a premises immediately until the issue is rectified.
Ariana was closed on July 19 but the problems, such as raw fish being displayed next to cooked fish, were rectified and the store re-opened on July 21.
The worst case Ms Olive said she had witnessed was that of grocery and butcher shop Baltica, in Mayor’s Walk, which was found to have meat contaminated with flies, crawling with maggots and well past its use-by date in August last year.
She said that by and large, city businesses proved willing to work with officers and quickly address any problems.
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Recent cases in Peterborough
Baltica, in Mayor’s walk:
Described by Samantha Olive as the worst recent breach of environmental health regulations she has witnessed. Inspectors found in August last year meat being stored on dirty cardboard and at unsafe temperatures, with some of the products for sale out-of-date, mouldy or contaminated by flies. A subsequent inspection in September 2011 found no hot water for hand-washing or cleaning and food past its sell-by date. It was fined more than £7,000 in January this year.
Kepenek, in wulfric sq, bretton:
A council investigation found that these Kurdish-style drink and yoghurt products had not been produced in line with food safety guidelines. It was served with a temporary closure notice, as it was also found not to have been on the council’s Peterborough Food Registered Premises database.
Ariana, in lincoln Road.
The fish shop was allowed to re-open two days after it was closed, after inspectors found a shop full of flies, no hot water and raw fish displayed next to cooked fish, risking contamination.
Peterborough Ice cream supplies
Rat infestation discovered.