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Feb 13 2015

Harrow. Not a Great Place to Eat Out, says Which?

mail_online_logoThe Daily Mail has an article today, reporting that Harrow comes in the bottom ten (actually, fifth from bottom…) of a Which? report . “The warning,” says the Mail, “comes from Which?, who say local councils in some areas are letting the owners of restaurants, cafes and takeaways get away with putting customers at risk.”

Which? surveyed food hygiene reports submitted by all 398 local authorities in the UK, based on their surveys of eating establishments in their areas, to the Food Standards Agency.

You can read the complete article here. Thanks to J. for the tip off.

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46 comments

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  1. st

    So what exactly are Harrow council doing? Theyre slacking on carrying out hygene checks (if this expensive Dave, maybe you can charge the restaurants a £75 yearly fee to cover the cost of inspections???), they want to reduce street cleaning, reduce waste collections, reduce library services, reduce maintenace, revoke free parking at the leisure centre…BUT they also want to increase council tax. Harrow residents are being taken for an absolute ride.

  2. Someonewhocares

    From the article it appears that Harrow Council’s Restaurant lax ‘Hygene Inspectors’ are just not using the powers they have to close down the worst offenders – so perhaps they simply dare not do this for fear of loss of business rates? In the meantime we, the restaurant customers, are sometimes therefore ‘paying’ in another way – with food poisoning.

  3. RichardG

    Surely it means that Harrow’s inspectors are doing a good job uncovering the establishments that fall short of hygiene standards. If no inspections were done, no food establishments would be reported as bad and Harrow would come top!

    1. iharrow.com

      Interesting point. I’ve often wondered if the police stopped nicking drug dealers on street corners, whether the number of arrests for drug dealing would go down, which would make people think there wasn’t a drug problem and the place was safer. Ergo, a high number of drug dealing crimes is a good thing, right? But then again, zero arrests for drug dealing could also be a good thing, especially if there weren’t any drug dealers to nick. Schrödinger’s cat would be beside himself!

      But here’s a far-out idea: perhaps Harrow’s Labour-run council are trying to not upset the (BAME-run) food establishments, because they’re run by potential Labour voters? Thus, if the council closes them, they may vote Conservative in retaliation?

      – Paul.

      1. RichardG

        Paul – your far-out idea is illogical. If the council are reporting a high number of establishments with poor hygiene standards, they are increasing the chance of the establishments being closed! Ergo – they’ll vote Conservative; according to you 🙂

        1. iharrow.com

          Depends whether you consider a ‘low score’ restaurant a better result than a closed one? If you give a truly awful, rat-crap-everywhere establishment a low score, but leave it to trade, the owner is happy. And votes Labour. If you close it, he’ll be upset and vote Conservative. Of course, the only people really suffering are Harrow’s residents, but we’re used to that… 🙁

          1. RichardG

            Paul – your anti-labour council attitude (often justified) is clouding your analysis. I suspect that the current statistics date back, at least in part, to when the Conservatives ran the council.

  4. j p hobbs

    I heard the Rats are going into Brent now to eat as Harrows not fit for their delicate taste , just coming back to Harrow to sleep as there is more bedding in the streets of Harrow .

  5. sonoo malkani

    These reports make us hang our heads in shame as Harrow sinks further down the league,coming FIFTH LAST for hygienic restaurants.One more nail in our coffin.Our LABOUR COUNCIL needs to get its Inspectors out pronto to properly assess the CONDITIONS within the eating places we visit in good faith.They must do their job THOROUGHLY and stop playing with the HEALTH of our citizens.They are paid to do a good job and are not doing us any favours.

    We haven’t a hope in hell of attracting visitors or shoppers to Harrow,not to mention our own locals, when they have many more safer options.Part of the pleasure of shopping or a day out is a decent meal,served in an environment which is conducive to its customers.Also, where they are sure they will not return back with food poisoning.Too much has been reported of late– about rotten rat droppings found in kitchens as well as other disgusting facts.

    Surely it is far more important that the Council gets their inspectors out on their bikes and ensure we have PROPERLY GRADED restaurants and eating places.What a turn off, just on the eve of Valentine’s day!

    We cannot sit around and see the local economy being abused just because the authorities are not giving an honest appraisal–if they give one at all—all for self gain.Absolutely disgraceful!!

  6. Someonewhocares

    RichardG; Appreciate your tongue-in-cheek point about Harrow’s Inspectors must be doing a good job but the problem is those unhygenic Restaurants still don’t improve?

    j p hobbs; Don’t worry, when the brown bin charge comes in many will use compost heaps instead and so the rats will come back to harrow to eat AND sleep in them!

    1. PraxisReform

      Blaming the Inspectors is really just shooting the messenger, since the Inspector is only giving the establishment it’s rating, based on what they found when they inspected… One would then hope that establishments receiving a low rating would say “I’ll make the recommended changes and aim to get a better grade next time”, thereby benefiting everyone.

      So the blame here has to lie fairly and squarely with the Political types, who are the ones setting the rules. Yet, they will just procrastinate and make a big meal of the issue (pardon the pun).

      Thus, the big question we need the answer for is: “How long can an establishment get away with scoring zero or one for?”. If the answer is more than two or three times in a row, then someone at the Council needs to be sacked.

      What can be done? Just off the top of my head:
      – Give the Inspectors the power to forcibly close restaurants scoring zero, until they can be reinspected, and improvements demonstrated.
      – Force food outlets to display their rating prominently in the front window, which I believe is how it works in Ireland
      – If establishments are repeatedly scoring zeros and ones, but not taking on board the recommendations, then MPs and Councillors should be asking questions on our behalf and taking some sort of action as a result to remedy the situation.

      None of this is vastly expensive or rocket science, yet we’re stuck with a bunch of Councillors that would rather stand around with their hands in their pockets whining about money, instead of making the best of what they already have available, and stopping Harrow being a laughing stock to the readers of Which? magazine.

      1. s

        PraxisReform: I expect the key word is ‘hope’ in your sentence:

        ” One would then hope that establishments receiving a low rating would say “I’ll make the recommended changes and aim to get a better grade next time”, thereby benefiting everyone.”

        You then moved on to blame the Councillors instead of the Inspectors for this problem; But how exactly are the Councillors supposed to know about all this unless they are given the specific (bad) Hygene Reports for their wards by the Inspectors in the first case?

        1. PraxisReform

          Yes, “hope” is the right word, because it seems there are some restaurateurs that are content with a rating of zero, and as Which? has highlighted, Harrow is pretty far down the league table.

          So, the crux of the matter as I see it is one of enforcement… Since it’s common sense that repeated failures to improve should flag up somewhere.

          If there is no system to flag these failures and deal with them, then the system is not working properly.

          Councillors are in charge of the administration of the local area, so if the system is not working properly, it’s because they have turned a blind eye to the matter or just don’t care enough to see that the borough is being run into the ground in various different ways.

          So, let me make a simpler analogy, someone turns up for an appraisal at their workplace and receives a zero out of five. Let’s say their performance doesn’t improve at the next appraisal meeting, and so on…

          If that person later messes up and puts a colleague in danger or loses the company a lot of money or business etc. Whose fault is it?

          The Appraiser for being honest and accurately reporting the performance of the worker?
          or
          The businesses Management for not taking action based upon the objective evidence provided by the appraisal process?

          Hint: I view Councillors at the Managers of the Borough. And I’ll go further and say that if I can find food standards ratings on the internet in a few minutes, I’m sure it wouldn’t inconvenience Harrow’s Councillors to take a quick peek themselves once or twice a year.

  7. j p hobbs

    All part of the Flora and Fauna of Harrow , Winston would be so proud .

  8. sonoo malkani

    Makes me cringe!

  9. mike mcfadden

    Perhaps once again Harrow doesn’t want to offend anyone!! Or they need more money or more staff. That’s usually the socialist merry-go-round war cry.

    I hate to think what Harrow’s going to look like once the Nu-bin tax comes in. Garden waste on every street corner rats the size of cats and all those loser’s that don’t understand don’t speak English don’t give a toss about our culture or life style, needles to say those that should not even be here. Still living at tax-payers expense when the councillor’s that created the situation should be paying personally in my view.

    I can hear the cry from Harrow council now. We need more money, we need more staff, we need!!!! Why doesn’t Harrow council put the needs of the tax-paying home owning residence first and STOP harassing them!! You cannot clean-up Harrow or run a efficient business by charging/taxing more for less. All you can do is annoy people that live and work in the real world plus kill thrift hard work and enterprise but they know that already!!!!!!!!! So what is their real hidden agenda?

  10. Jake

    Quite simply, cuts have consequences. Get used to it.

    1. mike mcfadden

      Jake wake-up! Every civil employee I know and its not many, granted. Think they work hard and always say they work hard at every opportunity. They seem for no apparent reason to always justify the wages before anything else. Why? Because they don’t, many just attend a place of employment. However, I give you and insight to one conversation on a Friday afternoon I had with a lovely girl I know: Quote:

      “Hi Lizzy not working today? Yes its my work from home Friday. Ah but you’re not at home working your in the pub! Ah but I was working this morning! No you weren’t you were out looking at houses with your dad because I spoke to him earlier. Ah that’s because I’m good at my job and did it in an hour. So why are we paying 8hrs? Ah Don’t know!!!” Unquote:

      The reality, of council civil servants workforce is different from the real world. Many times when you ring the council you get they are not at their desk at present or they are in a meeting. Both excuses are metaphors for (haven’t seen them all day). You very rarely get phones answered by the person you need before 10am and or after 4oc. So to me their working time seems to be less then 4 hrs a day= 20hrs a week, not counting holidays sick days special holidays.
      Any self employed person will tell you, you’ll get very little done working 20hrs a week!!!

      Then we have to take a battering ram to the councils vanity projects like paying out council-tax payers monies to those that should not be here. I can only guess but I would imagine that could be costing council-tax payers millions if the truth were told.

      So, in reality, cuts have consequences for those living on easy street for far too long. Time to wake-up and smell the coffee. Its not rocket science where we are losing money hand over fist.

  11. PraxisReform

    I’ve been browsing the food standards agency website, and it seems that there are 1,246 registered food outlets in Harrow.

    Of those, ten are rated zero out of five, a score that the Food standards agency classes as “Urgent improvement necessary”.

    So, since our inept Council is more interested in making cuts and running the area into the ground, rather than promoting improvements to the borough, I figure it’s worth naming and shaming these shoddy establishments in the hope that they will actually make the recommended improvements and thereby ensure that Harrow becomes a place where it’s safer to eat lunch or enjoy a meal out.

    Those with an eye for detail will note that about half of these eateries are in or close the infamous “Wealdstone corridor”, region that has been crying out for improvements (but ignored by lazy Councillors) for many years.

    Food for Thought
    Mental Health Day Centre, Christchurch Avenue, HA3 5BD
    Last inspected: 28 October 2014

    Jambo India
    865 Honeypot Lane, Stanmore, HA7 1AR
    Last inspected: 05 December 2014

    Noodle City
    235 Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2TB
    Last inspected: 18 September 2014

    Orchid Lounge
    14A Broadwalk, Pinner Road, HA2 6ED
    Last inspected: 19 November 2014

    Roosters Piri Piri
    186 Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2RH
    Last inspected: 14 October 2014

    Spicy Express
    34 Station Road, North Harrow, HA2 7SE
    Last inspected: 04 November 2014

    Star Express
    147 Burnt Oak Broadway, Edgware, HA8 5EJ
    Last inspected: 02 October 2014

    Sweetburys Local
    58 High Street, Wealdstone, HA3 7AF
    Last inspected: 09 December 2014

    VB & Sons
    539-545 Pinner Road, Harrow, HA2 6EQ
    Last inspected: 03 November 2014

    Wealdstone Super Store
    106 High Street, Wealdstone, HA3 7AH
    Last inspected: 09 October 2014

    102 other food outlets are rated “1”, a score described by the Food standards agency as “Major improvement necessary”.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Excellent research; Thank you! Suggest you also send it to Council leaders, ask what they intend to do about it all and post their responses on here ?

      May help to send them the ‘Which?’ and ‘Food Standards’ links in case they missed them, too !

      Unless eaitng (vomiting?) establishments are actually made to post up their ‘hygene’ ratings this situation will obviously not change either.

      1. PraxisReform

        There’s a lot more that Harrow needs than just good food hygiene. I’ve been saying as much since I had the idea of sending calendars highlighting various derelict and vandalised buildings to those in charge at the council, and various others, which I thought might prompt some action at the time…

        But, I will take you up on your idea, and send the links etc. to Cllr. Perry and see what response (if any) I get back.

        I should warn you though, that having written letters in the past to a good many political types and Government departments etc. that my response rate is pretty abysmal.

        Even locally, when I highlighted concerns about the boroughs policing, Sonoo Malkani tried to be helpful by suggesting that I wrote to Cllr. Varsar Parmar, but It seems that Cllr. Parmar didn’t deem those emails important enough to reply to, even after follow up emails were sent to MOPAC etc. Not to mention that Cllr. Ferry never returns my calls; I could go on, but I don’t want to bore you.

        If I was a cynical type, I’d think the Politicians just didn’t like me.

  12. Concerned Harrovian

    I have never seen a food hygiene rating on the door of any restaurant/shop in Harrow. The restaurants and shops listed by PraxisReform as having a rating of one should hang their heads in shame. They would have to improve a great deal to reach a score of five. Just how stupid would one have to be not to keep an establishment that the public visit clean and any preparation of food done in a hygienic way.

    Does anyone know if it is compulsory for these establishments to undertake any basic training in food hygiene? When named and outed as disgusting in the press it is usually the name of the establishment that is printed. These eateries can just change their names and reopen somewhere else.

    I think a picture of the OWNER should be printed in the press. Also I think they should be sentenced to eating some of their filthy food Let’s .bring back the stocks and throw their tainted food and rats back at them At least it would provide some entertainment for Harrovians.

    I seem to remember reading in the Harrow Times about a restaurant that had been warned ll times before it was closed down. I think there should be one warning and if on the second visit there is no improvement the establishment should be closed down.

  13. Concerned Harrovian

    PraxisReform

    I agree with you as am also fed up with Harrow being a laughing stock. Perhaps instead of paying councillors’ expenses they could be issued with vouchers to be spent only in these grotty establishments. I am sure there would then be a rapid improvement in hygiene.

    I have checked on Harrow.gov.uk and it would seem each councillor is paid a basic allowance of £8,160 (more if they sit on the various committees). If there were only two councillors per ward instead of three Harrow would save money. 21 councillors at a basic rate of £8,160 would be £171,360 which could be spent on libraries, lollipop ladies, reversal of the £75 brown bin tax etc.

    The 21 redundant councillors could then volunteer as library assistants, lollipop ladies, snow clearers and road gritters. etc.

    1. PraxisReform

      Don’t worry, the Civic Centre canteen rates 5 out of 5. As do a number of establishments with ethnic sounding names; so I don’t believe this can be put down simply to “dirty foreigners invading the borough”, or whatever was suggested in the thread above.

  14. sonoo malkani

    Excellent points by Concerned Harrovian.Jake and Richard G are obviously supporters of the present adminstartion.Pity they are not at concerned about the HEALTH and well-being of our citizens who pay hard-earned money to eat out at these unhygienic places.Let’s all be grown up and for once consider the NEGATIVE IMPACT of joints such as these.May be the time has come for us to reduce the number of Councillors per ward–especially as many are not particularly keen on looking after the public interest,My very sincere apologies to those whom I know are truly working on our behalf—across the political spectrum.I don’t like playing favourites and like to say it as it is.

    1. RichardG

      Sonoo Malkani – I may or may not be a supporter of the current administration but if you were able to understand my comments you would realise that the fact that establishments are being classed as having poor hygiene means that inspectors are doing their job of inspecting. I also said that the statistics probably cover the period of the previous Conservative administration as well as the current Labour administration. It may well be that more should be done to publicise the hygiene rating of every establishment involved in food preparation and very poor places should be closed. The public can observe for themselves the general state of many of these places – often just checking their toilets is a good indication of hygiene standards and can then vote with their feet. Even so, humans are pretty tolerant of bugs otherwise we’d have disappeared long ago – and maybe the council has different priorities!

  15. Anne Jones

    Any person involved the preparation of food to be consumed by purchase must have a basic food hygiene certificate.In England restaurants,food shops,supermarkets etc are encouraged to display their rating but is not a requirement..
    In Wales new stickers must be displayed in a prominent place & give verbal info if asked which is a far better idea.
    Hope that helps.

  16. Someonewhocares

    Then clearly a key first step would be to get Councillors to FORCE establishments to post up their .’star’ ratings….

    1. mike mcfadden

      Ha ha ha Harrow council do anything. ha ha ha Your having a laugh. Harrow loonies have boxed themselves into a corner with brain-washing “diversity training” Political Correctness and that Multicultural nonsense!!! Now they’re afraid to offend a dead rat!!

      As society drifts from the truth so they will hate those that speak it.:” George Orwell” And its happening.

      Time for change its the only thing that makes sense.

      Ah, I must admit they will hit hard WORKING folk that live in their own homes and struggle to pay their own way with a hateful passion.

      Time to ask why?

  17. Someonewhocares

    Don’t think that cynical, it’s just that too many ‘politicians’ are averse to facts, truth – and so on ?

    If they don’t reply suggest you post that lack of response it up here again, too!

    1. PraxisReform

      Just a quick note to say that Cllr. Perry should be in possession of a polite but firm email from me. I also CC’d in Paul to the email, so if necessary he should be able to confirm that an email was indeed sent, and I’m not just talking for the sake of flapping my lips.

      Perhaps with so many witnesses that correspondence has indeed taken place, Cllr. Perry won’t be able to argue that he didn’t receive anything… and therefore a lack of response will demonstrate rudeness and just sheer lack of interest in the borough, rather than technical incompetence or gremlins in the internet.

      1. PraxisReform

        No response from Cllr. Perry so far (though to be fair, it’s only been a few days, but it would have been nice to get an acknowledgement).

        I stumbled over the following article recently, and thought it seemed rather apt… Apparently, a bad restaurant experience can leave diners suffering from a mild form of trauma:
        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11416858/Why-eating-out-at-a-bad-restaurant-can-be-a-real-personal-disaster.html

  18. Anne Jones

    You cannot force them to put their ratings in a prominent position by local law,only encourage them.what you need to know is since the 0 rating has any follow up visits been carried out.

    http://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/REVEALED-hygiene-rating-food-business-Croydon/story-20576472-detail/story.html this link gives details about re visits and other items not soley related to Croydon but in general.

    And this link is for the fsa http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/hygiene-rating-schemes/rating-schemes-faqs-en/fhrs which is word a read.

    If any outlet is between 0-3 rating then avoid it

  19. Concerned Harrovian

    PraxisReform

    Thank you for the link to the very interesting article. Do Harrovians sue the restaurant, the council or perhaps both for the traumatic stress?

    1. Someonewhocares

      Suspect it all depends on just how bad the trauma/D&V bug contracted is – and if we survive it?

    2. Anne Jones

      You realise The Fat Duck which holds 3 Michelin stars had the single highest case in terms of numbers linked to norovirus at a Restaurant
      http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/dec/05/fat-duck-restaurant-noroviris-outbreak

      Also if you look at food chains chicken shops & some of the chains who run them seem to be serial offenders,also take a look at some of the better known venues in Harrow.

      1. PraxisReform

        Michelin stars and food hygiene ratings are too completely different systems…
        Further, it’s worth noting that according to an earlier article in the same paper, Mr Blumenthingy had had previous problems with food hygiene: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/may/02/freedomofinformation.foodanddrink

        To be clear and fair to everyone concerned though, having an inspection system isn’t a magic bullet that will stop all problems. It’s one of a number of management tools for minimising risk to the public, since the Inspector can only take a sample, on the day that he attends the premises.

        That sample wont be able to cover 100% of the restaurants procedures, and the day the inspector visits might be the only day that the restaurant was clean for the year, or at a time when the proprietor is desperately short of staff, having some personal problems and has temporarily let standards slip.

        However, regarding Harrow, from my brief perusal of the ratings, a lot of the large multiple burger/chicken chains and supermarkets have scored 5 out of 5. But that’s not the point, the original Which? article had rated Harrow ‘as a borough’ low in its hygiene rankings. My further quick analysis of Harrow’s ratings showed that almost 20% of premises were rated 0,1 or 2 stars (i.e. below “satisfactory”), which seems like a lot to my mind, so I’m tending to agree with Which?

        As I see it, you’re really only going to see the true benefits of an inspection system, after the establishments have all had a number of inspections, and we can see a trend emerge for each restaurant – i.e. are they continually improving? Have they just had one not so good result amongst a number of other generally good ones? Did they start off well, but are now on a steady decline? or have they started low and made no improvements?

        Now, it seems pretty obvious to me that if I open a restaurant, my first priority should be not poisoning the customers, and then taking the inspectors advice on-board, learning from best practises in the industry, properly training my staff etc. which it seems that 80% of premises in Harrow have pretty much achieved to some extent.

        But, I think we can all imagine that there will be a small number of restaurateurs that say “all this hand washing is taking too much time” or “this meat smells okay and is only a few days past its expiry”… It’s those types of venue that the inspectors need to be encouraging to improve or leave the marketplace. Thusly, any problems come straight back to Harrow’s Councillors, who (and I’m guessing here) may have understaffed the boroughs inspection function, not provided enough resources for Inspectors to carry out inspections efficiently, skimped on refresher training of Inspectors, not allowed Inspectors the powers to deal with really bad offenders or Ignored reports of repeated poor hygiene etc. etc. Only residents vigilantly watching the Council will be able to work out the answer to that one.

        That aside, for any restaurant that scores zero, no matter how you look at it, it’s a bad score, and one which *should* have them making changes ASAP, then urging the inspector to come back and carry out another inspection at the earliest opportunity.

        Finally, just for the record, the Fat Duck presently scores 5 out of 5 for hygiene, so you’re safe to go and eat snail porridge etc.

        1. Anne Jones

          I do realise that Michelin stars and food hygiene ratings are two completely different systems,the point I was making that cleanliness & hygiene know no bounds to the type of establishment & show human failure regardless of what type, or how much money you throw at a kitchen(other michelin restaurants have food safety related issues to).

          You are right with regard to not being a magic bullet,think of it more as a guiding hand but if the hand is not consistent in it’s guiding ,or if advice is ignored then standards will fall,you also have to consider the cannot be arsed factor,poor training,complete lack of knowledge,& no consistent hygiene or food,safety training all responsibility of management / owners.

          As for the not enough staff or personal problems being a cause to let standards slip complete tosh,if you open sell food & take money you can clean,this is an excuse with no merit,also you have the yea later i will do it later, or haphazard bucket of water & same cloth for all cleaning which makes matters worse,the basic food hygiene cert needs to be re vamped & chains who run franchises need to inspect franchisees units to instil a company ethos & train potential franchisees.

          I know almost every trick in the book when it comes to inspection dodges within the kitchen area having worked within this environment & also with companies (run by former inspectors who advise or help defend offenders with court cases or serious issues.

          To get a 0,1,2 rating does not happen if you do not clean for a few days these ratings show a consistent disregard.

          So heres a couple of things I have come across locally ie within 6 miles,food prep outside on an old table,swilling of containers that had raw meat products in & throwing out back door
          peeing in a food prep sink then running water as too busy to use toilet,or peeing outside back door,not washing hands but wiping them on a tea towel then using that to wipe surfaces down.Incorrect storage of food items,poor stock rotation & not cooling items down properly,using same water to clean meat prep,salad prep,dessert fridges there by spreading god knows what where.

          I have also come across establishments in the past where the inspectors phone ahead to say what day the inspection is happening (not locally but not far away).

          1. PraxisReform

            I’m not disagreeing with much of your comment, but just thought I should add that the “excuses” I suggested were ones made up as the sort of thing I imagine that some people would give, and of course are, as you say, “complete tosh”.

            Any business needs to look at a number of additional issues, which might not be immediately obvious… Such things as nominating deputies, detailed job descriptions, internal communication, maintenance, allocation of resources, proper record keeping, etc. nobody can fully legislate these things, but they will all be useful to any business, even restaurants.

            I have no experience of being inspected as a restaurant, but I suspect that inspections are not “a guiding hand”, since if the only time you make improvements is as a result of the Inspector telling you that you need to do something, then you could have been unwittingly serving contaminated food for a considerable period of time, or putting your staff/customers in danger some other way. Ultimately the individual restaurant’s responsibility has to lie with the proprietor to keep developing the business, maintaining the premises, investing in staff training, new technology, etc. etc. all of which *as a by-product* will likely mean that they have far fewer problems with their hygiene inspections.

            The problem of course is that all this costs money, and often quite a bit of it… Since if your staff are cleaning / training / keeping records / etc. then they’re not preparing food for customers, and preparing food for customers is what generates the businesses turnover… So the temptation will always be there to say:

            Tom’s restaurant only cleans up once a week, I’ll cut the cleaner’s hours
            Dick’s restaurant stores all its raw and cooked meat in one tiny fridge, I’ll save money by doing the same
            Harry’s staff toilet is crammed full of stock, if I copy him, I won’t need to pay for a separate storage unit

            It’s an age old story that we keep seeing repeated again and again in all sorts of different industries… a couple of quick examples:

            … A friend of mine works in IT and was told “We don’t have many IT problems, you’re being laid off”… A couple of months later they realised who had been managing and preventing the problems in the first place.
            … Prolonged lack of regulation in the Banking sector has led to Bankers creating massively risky and complex financial instruments that even they didn’t properly understand… Something that we all saw go belly up in 2007.

            Unfortunately the politicians keep telling us “Only things that generate money are of interest”… But, I’ll stop here since I’m sure everyone has heard the stories about them all being in the pockets of big business and having no interest in the man on the street.

  20. Sarah

    It is also worrying that there appear to be many restaurants/take aways in Harrow that haven’t even got a rating (according to the FSA site). Frankie & Bennys still awaiting inspection (that has been in St George’s at least a year?), Cafe Rouge and Carluccio’s not even on the list.

  21. PraxisReform

    Plaudits to David Perry (or at least whoever responded on his behalf since it was c/o) about the state of restaurant hygiene in Harrow and to Paul Osborn (who took time to acknowledge a completely separate matter that I contacted him about). Rotten tomatoes to Keith Ferry and Varsha Parmar who refuse to speak to me, and Bob Blackman who has only ever patronised the Medi-Vial issue, and has never seen fit to take any action to improve the former employees situation.

    But, back to the topic in hand, I sent Cllr Perry a number of questions, as I said I would, and surprisingly I got a response… I’m not sure of a couple of the answers, but I guess a response is a response, and it’s more than I expected.

    I’ll reformat the questions and answers below, to make them more readable, but won’t change any of the actual text:

    Q: Can you let me know specifically how bad a restaurant in Harrow has to be before it is compulsorily forced to close?
    A: This is laid out in the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 which is derived from EU legislation. Closure is based on imminent risk of injury to health and an example could be rodent droppings in food or on preparation surfaces and equipment.

    Q: Have all the restaurants in Harrow been assessed by Food hygiene Inspectors?
    A: Harrow has a rolling inspection program for it’s food premises and the time interval is dependent on their rating. Each business is given a ‘hygiene rating’ when it is inspected by a food safety officer. The hygiene rating shows how closely the business meets the requirements of food hygiene law. This covers how hygienically the food is handled, the condition of the structure of the buildings and how the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe. New businesses are also inspected when identified.

    Q: Are the ratings (or at least trends in restaurant ratings) monitored by the Council or Councillors?
    A: Ratings are monitored by the Service and are subject to Audit by the Food Standards Agency. The percentage of premises found to be broadly compliant with food hygiene law, known as NI 184 are monitored by Senior Councillors and management.

    Q: Would repeated low rating of an establishment trigger action by the Council?
    A: Yes.

    Q: Are reports of bad practises / poor hygiene / food poisoning / etc. received from members of the public taken under advisement by Inspectors?
    A: Yes

    Q: Are inspections of food establishments carried out at random, or are the proprietors given a period of notice that an inspection is to be carried out?
    A: Not at random but as part of a programmed inspection regime based on ratings. Visits are unannounced, except for Home caterers where appointments are made – this is a requirement in the legislation.

    Q: Do Inspectors in Harrow have powers to close especially unhygienic establishments?
    A: Yes, either as voluntary closures or formal closures.

    Q: Is the keeping of records and traceability of food products used by the restaurant part of the inspection process?
    A: Yes.

    Q: Are establishments needing “urgent” or “major” improvements reviewed more frequently than those rated five out of five?
    A: Yes.

    Q: Does the council offer any incentives to local establishment to try to achieve the maximum five out of five rating?
    A: Not currently, however this is something that we can review and look into in the future

    Q: Would you agree that this recent report from Which? magazine contributes to the appearance of Harrow as a derelict and generally dilapidated area with a poor reputation, that is badly managed by its Council?
    A: Since taking over the running of the Council in May, when residents satisfaction was at an all time low, and with Central Government imposing £83m of cuts on Harrow Council and our residents, we have started to restore the reputation of Harrow. The announcement today of the successful bid to the GLA for £31.2m of investment into Harrow & Wealdstone Town Centre’s demonstrates our ambitious plans to regenerate Harrow and shows how we are successfully restoring long-term stability and reputation at Harrow Council, which has been recognised by the GLA in awarding us this money.

    +++

    Well, I have queries over a couple of issues here, in part because some answers are a bit vague, and it seems National Indicators were replaced in 2011, so someone has slipped up there… But if anyone else at iHarrow has questions, feel free to add them below, and I’ll try to roll them up into my reply for you.

  22. sonoo malkani

    Good to see some response about this issue over food hygiene in our restaurants from David Perry.Perhaps some community-spirited individual would conduct their own research and have the facts about RATINGS which most places choose not to display published like an information directory and help both the public of Harrow a well as visitors.Would be much more useful if that was taken up by the Hygiene inspectors on Harrow Council’s payroll.

  23. Someonewhocares

    Great work there Praxis, thank you! See what you mean about ‘vague’ answers, too.

    The key question then is if they can DEMAND that eating establishments be required to prominently display their ‘star’ ratings, which should be compulsory of course, as it is the best way to force/encourage improvements?

    – They never miss a trick to pass on the blame for the £83m ‘shortfall’ now, do they?

    1. Anne Jones

      As I stated before In England restaurants,food shops,supermarkets etc are encouraged to display their rating but is not a requirement so cannot be forced.

      In Wales new stickers must be displayed in a prominent place & give verbal information on their rating if asked which is a far better idea.Below is the exact wording from FSA.

      Businesses in England and Northern Ireland do not have to display their rating. So if you see a business without a hygiene rating sticker or certificate, you’ll have to decide if you want to eat or buy food from there without knowing the hygiene standards.

      Putting a hygiene rating on show is a good advertisement for businesses that meet the requirements of food hygiene law.

      A good food hygiene rating is good for business.

      The situation is different in Wales. Businesses that get a new rating after 28 November 2013, must by law display a sticker showing their rating in a prominent place in all entrances to the premises.

  24. sonoo malkani

    Perhaps English MPs should look int this and make sure we also have a statute which requires the standards which the Welsh have introduced rather sensibly in their public.eating places.

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