Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
Matt and Cat have sometimes had their attention drawn to alleged lapses of hygiene in the kitchen of this, that or the other establishment....

Matt and Cat have sometimes had their attention drawn to alleged lapses of hygiene in the kitchen of this, that or the other establishment. It’s not generally something which makes its way into reviews, and for good reason: hearsay isn’t a reliable way to form an opinion on anything so serious.

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme sticker

Matt and Cat don’t inspect venues’ kitchens and probably wouldn’t know what to look for if they did. That’s why they have always been keen promoters of the Isle of Wight Council’s innovative ‘Scores on the Doors’ system since it launched in 2007 – with a link to the scheme website alongside every review. Those council types certainly do get to inspect the kitchens, and what’s more they know what to look for and they publish the results. Now it seems that the Island’s idea has caught on, and a similar scheme is being rolled out nationally. One of the first authorities to adopt the Food Standards Agency’s new national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme was, naturally enough, the Isle of Wight Council. And M&C were invited along to the launch event.

The FHRS scheme was officially launched at Brading Roman Villa in front of a sizeable crowd of folk representing top-rated businesses, plus dignitaries and the assembled press. A decent buffet lunch was provided by the host venue and M&C happily munched on Brie and mango filo parcels and millionaire’s shortbread, washed down with a nice cup of tea, while making small talk to their fellow attendees.

Jean Clark from Brading Roman Villa's Forum Café receives the café's sticker from Cllr Barry Abraham

Jean Clark from Brading Roman Villa’s Forum Café
receives the café’s sticker from Cllr Barry Abraham

The FHRS rating will be issued to all types of businesses that supply food directly to consumers such as cafés, pubs, takeaways, restaurants and mobile caterers. The rating can be anywhere from zero to five, with zero meaning ‘urgent improvement necessary’ and five meaning ‘very good’. The ‘Scores on the Doors’ scheme operated on a similar basis. As part of the scheme, every outlet will receive a sticker indicating its rating based on its most recent food hygiene inspection. Although the business is not obliged to display its sticker, many will – and if they don’t, you might want to ask them why not!

Look out for the two green and black stickers to make informed choices about to where to eat and buy food!

As eagle-eyed readers will know, Matt and Cat’s own stickers also grace the doors of many of the Island’s eateries. These are given to all venues which M&C are happy to recommend and are based on their own subjective views of their experiences ‘front of house’. The FHRS rating is based on the activities behind the scenes, including 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. The scheme will be consistent across the country, making it a good advertisement for businesses that comply with food law whilst encouraging others to improve.

Although it is important, the food hygiene rating is not usually a factor in Matt and Cat’s reviews because even the cleanest and most highly-rated place might be the most uninspiring and serve bland food indifferently. The Isle of Wight County Press, covering the launch of the new scheme, drew out some of the more surprising low ratings – it’s certainly not always the places you’d imagine.

So now you can check Matt and Cat’s review in conjunction with the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme to get the best information about where you want to eat. Alongside this website’s reviews and its readers’ comments, the FHRS ratings will allow residents and visitors alike to make informed choices about to where to eat and buy food. Look out for the two green and black stickers!
Food Hygiene Rating Scheme Launch

  • PAUL MULLERY says:

    The reason I make references to education and National Health is because all inspection criteria is government led and it is EVIDENCE – based. That is the flaw in the system. When the inspected are providing evidence to the inspector, it is open to fraud thereby making the inspection invalid. The only valid inspections are those where the inspected have no input into the proceedings – eg a lorry tachograph or an MOT on a car.

    With respect to hygene, the inspection process can be worse than useless. Consider the following example.

    Restaurant A is spotless and all temperatures are correct and recorded as correct – result 5 stars

    Restaurant B is spotless but the temperatures are dangerous. The proprietor falsifies the records – result 5 stars

    Restaurant C is spotless and temperatures are correct but not recorded – result 0 stars

    Ten diners are choosing where to go so 5 go to A and 5 go to B. No one goes to C

    What has the inspection process achieved?

    50% diners are potentially going to be poisoned because the inspection said it was OK. 100% of diners are missing out on a fine eating experience at C

  • MrT says:

    Re my last blast. I’ve found some scores for Tesco now, but I’m still fuming over an area that gives 5 stars to a burger van that is not in use, but not to any ‘café’, ‘restaurant’ or ‘hotel’.

  • MrT says:

    Your attitude is quite right so long as the scheme is run fairly and consistently as I am sure it is on the Island. As far as I can see (the national website is not as informative as it might be), 84% of all rated IoW businesses get 4 or 5, and less than 5% get zero or 1. So it seems you have to be very unlucky or careless or awful to get less than a 2 on the island.

    I’m sorry to have bored you with my comments, but I was just astonished at how different things are in my area, and it was a delight to find intelligent discussion of the topic here. Don’t assume everything is as well run elsewhere. For example our area apparently inspects and rates the local methodist church for its Shoppers Lunch, but doesn’t pester Tesco, with its fish and meat counters, bakery, staff canteen etc – Tesco, according to Scores on the Doors can get away without an inspection here as “low risk”. Funfair food stalls that only trade in the warm months can get an inspection on January 5th, and burger vans may be inspected on days they don’t trade – stored at their depot – and get 5 stars. Quite bonkers.

  • C & R says:

    Tink, too true. I was attempting to draw a line under it with my first post on the subject. Basically, if a place has a 1, I won’t eat there; if it has a 4 or 5 I will. End of. And if people don’t like their scores, they should do something about improving.

  • Tink says:

    Bored with this now-sorry folks can we change the record

  • C & R says:

    Mr T, I agree with what you have said. Can I just politely point out that I said “surely this is the ultimate aim”? It was merely intended as a suggestion, as I do not know enough about the scheme to make such a definitive statement. But your information about the Disclaimer makes a mockery of what the scheme, at face value, means to the paying customer.

  • MrT says:

    This area is full of people leaping to conclusions, grinding axes, and making assertions which are not supported by evidence. I think it is time for a bit of careful thought.

    Sam N Ella: I didn’t say any authority “has stated a blanket ban of 5 stars for any cafés, hotels, guest houses or restaurant.” I merely pointed out that the authority where I live hasn’t handed any out. The evidence is there on the Scores on the Doors website, but I don’t know enough about the more background for this to say why. You seem to doubt my word as if you find it unbelievable that what I say should be true.

    C & R; You say “this is the ultimate aim of the scores on the doors scheme: to let the customer know that this is a safe place to eat” but their website says in the General Disclaimer at the outset that the score “should not be relied upon as a guide to food safety or food quality” which limits its value rather a lot.

    I don’t like this ‘naming and shaming’ game. But for those in Environmental Health departments who do, here’s a little suggestion: You could call it Local Authority Scores on Local Authority Doors, or Scores on Doors at Local Level. Here’s the idea.

    If you like to find out how likely you are to find top-rate hygiene when you go out to eat in an unknown area, it is easy to calculate: see how many hotels, cafes and restaurants there are rated in a particular area and then see how many have 5 stars, and calculate it as a percentage. This could so easily be converted into another sticker scheme, I am surprised those who love these schemes haven’t proposed it themselves.

    If the percentage is over 50% the local authority rates 5 stars for its hard work, and customers eating out without checking scores are still likely to find themselves in a place with 5-star hygiene. If the percentage is between 45% and 49%, they get 4 Stars. And so on. If the percentage is below 10% the Local authority will rate No Stars – in that case the likelihood of your chancing upon top rate hygiene is slender (if the statistics are consistent and reliable) and the local Environmental Health Department ought to be facing some serious questions. So then all we need is a sticker for the Local Authority Door, and a little debate about whether it should be compulsory to display the sticker. No doubt all those who want it to be compulsory for restaurants have already calculated the score of their own authority, it is so simple.

  • C & R says:

    I think as a food-loving customer, the bottom line is plain and simple – if I had to choose between a low scoring establishment and a high scoring one, I would choose the latter every time. Surely this is the ultimate aim of the scores on the doors scheme: to let the customer know that this is a safe place to eat. Regardless of processes or box-ticking or form-filling-in, this is all I want to know.

    With reference to the comparison with OFSTED inspections, as a teacher myself, it matters not whether I have the “asylum seekers and thick ones” in my class. If I can show an OFSTED inspector my assessment of the children’s ability at a starting point, evidence of this, alongside evidence of progress and an explanation of targets plus how I intend to help the pupils achieve these, and if I provide differentiated objectives and learning activities appropriate to those “asylum seekers and thick ones” throughout the course of my lesson observation, I can still achieve a grade 1 from my inspector.

    So yes, perhaps we can draw comparisons with OFSTED, because along with the Food Hygiene inspections, if you are doing what you are meant to be doing and can provide evidence of this, there shouldn’t be a problem!

  • Sam N Ella says:

    The scores on the doors scheme is not “imposing high standards” – it is simply providing a way for the public to see what level of compliance with food hygiene law can be found. I’d really like to know which authority has stated a blanket ban of 5 stars for any cafés, hotels, guest houses or restaurant. Is it something you have heard second hand?

    And yes the FSA do monitor consistency of inspection:

    Also the FSA’s Code of Practice, which imposes standards upon the provision of a food hygiene enforcement services, sets out the minimum levels of training and monitoring inspectors should go under.

    I mentioned earlier that every single inspector that is authorised to award a rating has received the same FSA rating consistency training course. Every single one! That is on top of professionally required CPD, experience etc.

    Even allowing for that margin of subjectivity I disagree with your statements that the scheme is of “very doubtful validity” or that different authorities “are allowed to apply the rules in very different ways”.

    Don’t forget the rules are about rating how a premises complies with the law. For example it is not about whether one inspector thinks naibrushes are good and another thinks they are bad. It is about basic food hygiene practices that ensure a business produces safe food.

    One thing I will say is that FSA is rolling out the “National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme”. One third of English local authorities don’t have a scheme and will take on the FHRS. The two thirds of other authorities which already have a scheme, stars / smiley face / pass or fail, are being encouraged to take on the new scheme. Hopefully this will reduce the amount of inconsistency critics.

    Finally in response to Paul Mullery’s comment, I find it hard to see the connection between OFSTED / education inspections and inspections of food hygiene or are you criticising “inspection” as a process in general? What other method would you suggest as a way authorities can ensure food businesses comply with food hygiene law? I’d be interested to know as we are experimenting with different ways of measuring compliance with food hygiene law, for example end product sampling.

  • PAUL MULLERY says:

    An excellent post by Mr T. This is the drawback with all inspections, whether it be hygene, National Health or education. The inspection regime is subjective. What is acceptable to one inspector/area is unacceptable elsewhere. I’ve known teachers receive a grade 1 from one inspector and the same lesson taught by an identical method by the same teacher receives a grade 3 from another inspector. The same applies to hygene.

    If you follow the earlier posts re Mike from the Cinnamon Restaurant, if I was in his position, I would simply not display the result. The public doesn’t remember to look at the scores unless attention is drawn to them.

  • MrT says:

    How good to come across a sensible discussion of Scores on Doors. I’m a caterer and am all for Environmental Health departments imposing high standards. What is essential for any uk-wide scheme like this to work is simply consistency, but it is hard to find any body that is responsible for monitoring this, let alone enforcing it.
    For example, in my area the authority doesn’t award 5-stars to any busines in the categories of “cafe”, ” Hotel and guest house” or “restaurant”. I don’t have any argument with that – if they want to pitch the standards locally so high, all the better. The problem comes when you try to make comparisons. I can’t find another authority that doesn’t give at least some of those businesses 5-stars. And in some places you’ll find 55% or 58% of cafes get 5 stars. The standards round here are quite good and there is no way that the very best Restaurant or cafe in our area (in hygiene terms)(and there are some very good ones) cannot match the standards of the most average cafe in , say, North Norfolk.
    As far as I can tell, and I would love to be proved wrong, no-one at the FSA, or anywhere else, is responsible for ensuring consistency in the Scores on the Doors Scheme and it looks like the same is to be true of the next scheme. If that’s so these schemes are of very doubtful validity – how can you make meaningful comparisons if different areas are allowed to apply the rules in very different ways? That’s one very good reason why some hoteliers, with high standards and good scores, don’t trust the Scores on the Doors Scheme and refuse to display their scores.

  • sniggup says:

    Sam N Ella, Thankyou for clarifying the system for me, where you are at least, it is a system you should feel strongly about, in theory it keeps us all safe…

  • Sam N Ella says:

    Hi sniggup,

    Thanks for your kind words.

    I obviously can’t speak for IoW EHO’s but in my area we have around 1500 food premises and I feel we generally do a good job of ensuring they comply with the relevant food safety legislation.- but to answer your questions:

    a) The legal duty is on the owner of the food business to register with the local authority. Not giving the authority up to date information, including significant changes to the business, e.g. opening up a butchery slaughterhouse at the back of your café, is an offence. The list of all current food business registrations is freely available if you got to the town hall / civic centre in person. New businesses must register 28 days prior to opening.

    A food business is anywhere that “sells” food (it doesn’t have to involve a cash transaction) more than five days in any given five consecutive weeks. Normally premises that do not sell to the final consumer, are private and / or are very low risk (e.g. pharmacies that happen to sell a little health food etc) are unlikely to be published in a scheme.

    Personally I think it is good that the onus is on the business to register, it avoids people thinking, to quote a previous commenter, that typically the public sector can “afford to pay someone to walk around all day ticking sheets”. Registration by the way is completing one side of A4 in paper or online.

    The fact that above I have said “around 1500” not “1501” or “1502” demonstrates that the number of businesses undergoes constant churn e.g., closures, temporary closures, new owners, change in ownership, change in use etc

    A good EH team will proactively look out for new or newly re-opened premises. Even in my area, if our records are only 99% accurate then that means there are 15 business potentially trading without ever being inspected. I am not sure how, other than local intelligence and simply keeping our eyes open, we can reasonably identify those 15 businesses whilst dealing with the other 1485 businesses.

    b) Yes all registered premises undergo a routine inspection programme where the frequency of inspection is determined by risk. The inspection programme of each authority is monitored by the FSA. Not completing all the inspections due in a year will encourage the FSA to visit and thoroughly audit the service you are providing (not recommended – the inspectors who inspect the inspectors? – shudder)

    When we began our scheme we adopted a gradual approach, where by we added new scores to our website as and when premises were inspected after a given launch date. Some authorities used a “critical mass” approach where they published all data on all businesses at the same time. The danger with the critical mass approach is that some of the data may be old / inaccurate / invalid unless you carefully trawl through it.

    I’m sure you can tell I feel that most systems are well maintained however there are some people that will do whatever they can to slander the scheme and devalue the information and choice it offers to the public (needless to say these are the people that get low scores).

    Government unfortunately seem to be reflecting the nay-sayers. London was one of the first areas to have a consistent scheme across about 30 authorities. They started in 2007. They put a Bill forward recently to make the display of their rating Certificates mandatory. This was thrown out after most of the large national retailers and hospitality associations heavily petitioned. What have they got to hide?

    And yes I like Matt and Cat’s site. I regularly visit the island – look for the bloke on the ferry with an overweight brown labrdaor (why do I have to pay for the dog he doesn’t even get a seat?).

    I’m sorry to ramble on but I do feel strongly about the benefits of the scheme and what we do in general. The only people that seem to be against it are business owners that know they will get a less than high score.

  • sniggup says:

    Sam N Ella,
    Thank goodness for your balanced, rational, logical and factual responses to this topic.

    As you can see from the other contributions to this topic and to general reviews on this site, unfortunately you are not always dealing with equally balanced, rational or logical individuals. A retired teacher who refers to children by their so-called social status and admits it publicly? Scary. The same contributor professing to be a restaurant reviewer and expecting that his opinions to be taken seriously? Contributors who think that catering is a bit of a game..?

    Matt and Cat themselves do not profess to have any specific catering knowledge or expertise. As far as I understand they just enjoy eating out and wish to share their experiences with the world and have their very own forum to do so. In my opinion the best contributors to this website are those that enjoy eating out, you can see who the genuine contributors are. Those that just wish to persecute should not be welcome.

    I do have a query would seem logical to me that the local council would:
    a)have a list of all premises who have a licence to serve food and drink(hot or cold);
    b)that they would frequently and periodically check every premises/ outlet in order to inspect compliance.

    I do not believe this is the case at present on the island. I have heard that there are premises that have never been inspected, not to mention some local entrepreneurs that are catering for the public from home without any licence let alone food hygiene qualification at all.

    On the launch of the new system it was made clear how out of date some of the inspections are.

    I understand that you do not work on the island.. how does the system work where you are? I would hope that all Local Authorities are working with the FSA on compliance and that part of that responsibility and the reason for licensing of this activity would be frequent, periodic inspection. I think the system on the island is fundamentally floored as inspections are not periodic but, as I understand, as a consequence to concerns made or by request. The speed at which establishments change hands on the island at present would make me think that a more proactive approach should be made by Environmental Health here.

    I would appreciate your input on this matter as I do not understand how a system that is not particularly well maintained by its regulators can be taken seriously, as it is clear from some of the responses to this topic, it is not.

    If you manage or own a business that provides food or drink to the public you must accept the legal obligations that this entails. The management tools are FREE TO DOWNLOAD, there is no excuse. You are opening yourselves up to potentially ruinous (is that a word?) legal implications if not imprisonment if you fail to make your premises safe and hygienic not to mention potentially life threatening illness to your unsuspecting customers. Those that fake documents, be they FSA or OFSTED, should be publicly outed and shamed. Sam N Ella, I trust you will have a balanced rational non-island opinion in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.

  • Sam N Ella says:

    A small cafe does not have to reach the “same standard” as a hopsital kitchen. Like all food premises the small cafe has to comply with the food hygiene regulations. The score tells the consumer what level of compliance can be found at a given premises. 0 = totally non-compliant, 5 = compliant.

    A small cafe has to serve food that is safe to eat, it has to carry out safe hygienic practices, the premises has to be of a suitable construction and be clean, and food safety has to be managed adequately. The same food safety principles apply to a hospital kitchen, to an international food manufacturer and to a petrol station that sells chocolates.

    As for the NHS comment – which I find flippant at best – obviously the NHS (and all public sector) does not manage a revenue however it does have to manage costs. On the specific point of hospital catering you will find that most hospitals engage a private company to cater for their needs so any cost of food safety management would be borne by the private provider.

    “Ticking boxes” is not the be all and end all of the score. Many commenters seem to be forgetting that the majority (66.6%) of the score is based on
    1. Cleanliness and structure
    2. Hygienic practices

    Only a third of the score is about the capability of the business to manage food safety. If you have incompetent / untrained staff and do not manage food safely you can expect to receive a poor score for management.

    Also bear in mind that since the start of such schemes, local auhtorities have been careful not to “gold plate”. I.E. if a premises complies with the food safety law it should receive the highest rating. If there is any non-compliance e.g. untrained staff, structural repairs required (by law), evidence of inadequate temperature control then the score will fall. A premises should not receive a low score for not following non-legally required recommendations.

  • David Smith says:

    Kevbo there lies the problem the NHS does not have to make a profit it can afford to pay someone to walk around all day ticking sheets.In a small family run cafe everyone is busy doing the main job serving the customer.

  • Kevbo says:

    hi sam n ella
    I would have never guessed what I don’t understand is why a small business like my local takeaway has to reach the same standard as my local hospital does a bit of paper really matter?

  • Eyan & Ruth says:

    Sam n Ella. Not sure which one wrote the missive but you really made my day. ‘Speak to the Secretary of State’ hahahaahaa. (Ho, by the way, Eyan wrote this)

  • Sam N Ella says:

    With respect to all that have commented I can’t help but correct some inaccurate statements that have been made.

    Back to first principles – tax payers pay their tax to enjoy a satisfactory level of infrastructure and democratic society. Arguably one element of this is the basic right to expect that the food you purchase is safe to eat and will not cause harm, injury or illness. The level of food hygiene expected of business is set down by the Food Standards Agency and central government through legislation – currently the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006. The way local Councils ensure compliance with the Regulations is dictated by the FSA’s Code of Practice. EHO’s inspect food premises to ensure they comply with the Regulations. All of this information is freely available and if you are unhappy with the law you should speak to the Secretary of State.

    Now to address some of the points people have raised.

    The rating scheme is based on a scoring system that has been in place since 1990 (Food Safety Act 1990). EHO’s have used it as a basis to “risk rate” premises so they can decide how often a premises should be inspected. Several factors affect the risk rating.

    One main issue are the significance of risk for example premises which serve vulnerable groups (nurseries, hospitals, elderly care homes), or distribute food nationally or internationally, or manufacture food products, or use high risk processes like pasteurisation or sterile packing are higher risk, get a higher score and are inspected more often.

    The second issue – and the issue which the “FOOD HYGIENE RATING SCHEME SCORE” is based on are the levels of hygiene found at the premises, structural condition and level of management and control. Those premises that are not clean, have unsafe practices, have incompetent food handlers, have poor unhygienic construction and are not managed are higher risk and get a higher score.

    So scoring has been going on for over two decades. All that has changed is the fact the EHO’s now publish a rating based on the aggregate score of hygiene, structure and management.

    Remember almost all food businesses will be covered by the rating scheme, petrol stations, newsagents, bars that don’t sell meals (remember drink = food), restaurants, care homes, hotels, sandwich shops, fried chicken takeaways and Michelin starred gastropubs.

    On the specific areas for rating I feel that most people understand “Hygiene” and “Structure”.

    Hygiene wise if the EHO finds that foods are not kept at adequate temperatures, evidence of X-contamination, inadequate disinfection for example you will get a bad score.

    Structurally if the EHO finds a dirty premises with unclean equipment, no or inadequate hot water supplies , evidence of pest activity, for example again you will get a bad score.

    “Management and control” is probably the least understood. Structure and Hygiene are rated on what was found on the day. Management (or confidence in management) is a measure of the prospects the business has for improvement and the likelihood that good standards could be maintained. Simply put to get a good score the business must have an adequate and up to date HACCP based system. Before you glaze over or throw your hands up understanding of and implementation is a legal requirement if you’re not happy with this see my comment re: Secretary of State. Food handlers must be suitably supervised or instructed or trained in food hygiene. If an EHO finds that during the inspection no-one has (in-date and adequate) food safety training you will receive a bad score, again this is a legal requirement and again see Secretary of State.

    I would direct anyone with a real concern for their score to visit:
    which provides a practical guide from page 29 onwards on what sort of conditions will get you a “bad” score and what will get you a “good” score.

    Obviously I am EHO myself – not on the Island but nearby. I am a huge fan of the Scheme as you can tell. We have worked hard on the scheme including focussing on providing advice for businesses that do not comply, making sure our inspectors are consistent nationally in applying the rating and that our schemes are legally robust. On that note ANYONE who is unhappy with their score has a right to reply, a right to appeal and / or a right to invite the EHO back if they have rectified the matters which resulted in a less than perfect score.

    I would welcome responding to any comments that people have to make.

  • kevbo says:

    I agree with SR a rating system is only affective if timely inspections are carried out lets hope you get an answer soon

  • SR says:

    I agree with KJ, However there are silly things that the council do which outrages me most. For EG, a new place (previously a waffle house) is under construction but received a 5 STAR rating and they have not even finished building nor has it been inspected. Another Place got 5 Star and its a bar but no food served.

    So I wrote wrote this to the IW Enviro Team (no reply as of YET)

    Dear Members of the Environmental Health Office,

    Your RATING system is an absolute shambles. For example
    45 Union Street
    Isle Of Wight
    PO33 2LF
    About the hygiene
    Food hygiene rating is ‘4’: Good
    Additional information
    Business type: Take-Away
    Last inspection: Thursday, October 08, 2009

    this place was last Rated in 2009! yet it has 4 Stars.

    This place has been fined by YOU but yet it holds 4 Rating

    64-65 St James Street
    Isle Of Wight
    PO30 1LQ
    About the hygiene
    Food hygiene rating is ‘4’: Good
    Additional information
    Business type: Caring Premises
    Last inspection: Thursday, May 27, 2010
    114a High Street
    Isle Of Wight
    PO33 2SU
    About the hygiene
    Food hygiene rating is ‘3’: Generally satisfactory
    Additional information
    Business type: Take-Away
    Last inspection: Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    The representation of this and these ratings does not reflect the food hygiene in each establishment.

    After your initial investigation and 3 months re inspection you should update the Ratings to reflect on the current hygiene situation. There are place that have not been inspected for nearly 2 years but hold a high level Rating, as everyone is aware the Hygiene laws are ever changing and does the previous 2 year rating apply now today’s hygiene standards?

    Some places have been fined but still hold 4 Rating and other places have not been fined but hold a Rating of 1 so how does this reflect accurately? It simply Doesn’t.
    Certain issues such as using BUTTER CONTAINERS as storage was unacceptable for us but clearly on a news report we see a 5 Rating establishment using up to 6 of these containers. This is just a reflection of your ‘unfairness’ and lack of professionalism or empathy.

    Its detrimental that if you are a professional body and your rating reflects to the public a ‘seal of approval’ of each establishment then it is your duty to make sure that the information you hold about these establishment is current and up to date.

    Sadly it appears not.

    Yours sincerely
    S R

  • kevbo says:

    I gave been watching the discussions with interest and make the following comments If you study and understand the scoring system used by inspectors then you will realise that Mike does run a clean and safe premises and 20 is not the worst score 30 is,however the rules do require a documented management system which can be gained free of charge from the Food Standards Agency. By having one of these packs and by completing and maintaining the blanks Mike could move to a hygiene rating of 4 or even a 5. If you want to falsify records in advance and get caught expect to drop to 0 your choice Mike.

  • newboy says:

    Just a thought, but if there is so much speculation about what justification there is for the poor management score at this premises and whether it is just “box-ticking” that has let the premsies down, there is always the option for anybody to request the inspection paperwork through an FOI enquiry.

    Then it will be entirely possible for all and sundry to see why this premises has such a poor rating.

  • Nicola says:

    Just a thought about the EHO ratings from someone that has a 5. We work very hard to get and maintain this, having always had a 5 from the previous ‘scores on the doors’. We all know what’s required to have this rating and yes make sure we tick all the boxes, which takes a few minutes each day once up and running, as well as spending hours a week cleaning! It seems to me that people seem to think that it doesn’t apply to them and its not important and then whinge when they don’t get the rating they like. My advice either put up or shut up when you put the effort in on ALL ASPECTS of running a catering business you’ll get the rating you want.

  • Dave says:

    Paul Mullery

    Please listen to kj. He knows the truth. There are rules so cowboys don’t make their own. And the public is safe from people who decide when and how they store and cook foods.

    If you can’t be bothered (“bovvered”) to record refrigerator temperatures, you don’t care about hygiene.

  • Jeff says:

    Paul, the rating are not impared, the criteria for EHO inspections are not a secret and anyone that fails an inspection has only themselves to blame!
    Mike has been in the industry for 20 yrs, he runs a clean business and carries out all checks and procedures correctly! Yet he chooses not to record it? despite knowing that it will be checked! ….and you called me nieve?

  • kj says:

    at the risk of repeating myself…everybody knows the system, it is not new, it is not difficult, it is boring and repetitive.. and if you fail to comply (and it can only be down to laziness), you live with the consequences.

    You will find that most inspectors ( all the ones I have come across anyway) do use discretion and give people every opportunity to comply.

    I once failed to obtain a three star rating on a hotel because of the lack of a dressing gown hook on the back of one bathroom door……now that was jobsworth 🙂

  • PAUL MULLERY says:

    I have been pondering this series of posts overnight and thank Matt and Cat for allowing it to develop. This is my final post on the matter. Having read of Mike’s experience, I feel this issue is very important for all those of us who like to eat out and may be swayed by these hygene ratings. The importance is threefold.

    a An impaired rating procedure brings the whole system into disrepute

    b Proprietors could at best lose revenue or at worst go out of business because of it

    c Diners could lose out on a fine eating experience

    Any person who is allowed no discretion in his job is merely a jobsworth which can have unfortunate consequences. In addition, a system which can downgrade a person by 80% for what appears to be a minor and unreliable administrative matter in my view is flawed.

    I now address my comments to kj and all the other inspectors.

    Imagine the following scenario.

    You exit from a restaurant having just downgraded it for not appending biro to paper. You inadvertantly wander into the road and are knocked down by a passing car. An ambulance soon arrives but unfortunately the ambulance inspector is in attendance.

    As you are being put on a stretcher he inspects the cab and checks the log sheet. In the space marked date of last tyre pressure check he finds it is blank so technically the ambulance should not be on the road. Now kj what would you expect him to do?


    use his common sense, tell the driver to take you to hospital but immediately afterwards go to the depot to have the tyres checked.


    declare the ambulance failed, instruct the driver to leave you in the road, call another ambulance and go immediately to the depot.

    All I would say to you kj is if the establishment is obviously filthy – close it, otherwise use common sense, don’t be a jobsworth and use your discretion

  • PAUL MULLERY says:

    kj, can you not use your discretion in such circumstances. You go into Mike’s place and find blood dripping on the work surfaces and dripping raw meat falling on cooked meat in the fridge. It is your duty to report and prosecute him.

    If, on the other hand all is spotless and procedures have obviously been followed, then if I was doing it I would use my common sense. I would conclude this was only administrative not directly food related and give him advice that I expected to see the sheets completed on the next visit. Are you unable to do that? Have you no discretion at all?

    It’s rather like a police officer spotting a kid riding his bike on the pavement. He can caution and prosecute or give advice.

  • kj says:

    and you are just putting words into my mouth…I didn’t say it wasn;t flawed…just that the procdure is well known and established…I never mentioned whether it was even a good or bad thing…just that it is the system we have and if you fail to comply with it, it is your own fault and should expect a lower rating.

  • mike says:

    Thanks for the advice Paul maybe thats the way forward. In response to your last point after 20yrs working in the food industry including 6yrs working in France and Switzerland as far as i know all my customers are healthy happy and living fulfilled lives….
    p.s I am just about loosing the will to live myself…

  • PAUL MULLERY says:

    That’s your answer then Mike. Since kj refuses to admit that the system is flawed,I would pre-complete the sheets at the start of the week, put them in a nicely bound file with a few publications from the Health Inspectorate to make it look like you are really interested and there you are.

    The problem with all these inspectorates, whether it be food hygene, education or National Health Service they “chase the shadow and miss the substance” They always think writing something down equates to reality on the ground. Every time there is a government cock up they roll out the spokesmen to say “well we passed this inspection and that inspection” As in my previous post, the hospital passed with flying colours but the patient still died.

    Question to you Mike. Has anyone ever complained of food poisoning or ended up in St Mary’s as a result of eating in your establishment? If the answer is no then what’s the issue?

  • kj says:

    makes no difference if you don’t fill them in at all…..its not the point that they can be filled in at anytime…the point is that these have been the rules for over a decade and if you choose to not comply, then don’t moan if you don’t get the rating you think you deserve. Do the job as per requirements and that problem is solved.

  • mike says:

    I am sure that there are lots of chefs across the island that could relate to Mr Mullery’s comments regarding faking temperature records, whether it is one days records or one weeks. I am sure there are a few perfect people out there that never forget ha ha. Mr Mullery seems to have one quality which is missing from so many of the postings regarding the hygiene debate which is GOOD OLD FASHIONED COMMON SENSE.

  • PAUL MULLERY says:

    You still haven’t addressed the question kj about the impossibilty of knowing whether the sheets have been completed at the time or filled in after the event with fiction

  • kj says:

    Food hygiene is not just about keeping a clean kitchen , it is about demonstrating an ongoing ability to keep it clean and record your progress.

    If you can’t do both, then you are in the wrong business or need to employ someone who can.

    Its not like this system is new or changed…we have always had to keep records, you are taught to keep records and keep records you must…you got a 1 because you deserve a 1

  • PAUL MULLERY says:

    Jef, you must be extremely nieve if you think by examining paperwork the job has been done correctly. How do you know by reading paperwork that the job has been done at all? You read a sheet of temperatures but they may have been invented after the fact.

    Using my teaching experience again, one OFSTED dictat was that problem students must be highlighted in your records with a history of how they were dealt with. They expected to see problem students even if you didn’t have any. I just invented one with made up problems and made up solutions. All neatly documented. The inspector thought it was excellent!

    I wager Jef that a goodly proportion of your grade 5 establishments are no better than the grade 1’s, they are just better at filling in the logs and showing you what you wish to see.

  • Jef says:

    With respect to all of the above:
    The EHO visits are there to protect the paying public against serious risks to health. Cleanliness in not the only issue here, Temperature controls – Cross contamination – how long things are kept in fridges – safe working practices for preparation and cooking etc etc.
    Whilst I’m sure these are not an issue at the above establishments, A visiting EHO officer can only judge on what he sees during his visit and the only evidence available that establishments are complying with the above food safety regulations and that satisfactory management controls are in place are the written risk assesments, records of temperature checks and documented safe practices. If you don’t have these written down how can you prove to EHO or anyone else that they are carried out?
    This is NOT a box ticking exercise and it’s not complicated, it’s basic management controls.
    Food poisoning can Kill!

  • mike says:

    Hello again
    In response to Mr Mullery. We dont no Mr Mullery, but we appreciate the common sense comments posted in his reply. He made the point very well about our dislike of the obsessive way certain bodies in the public sector think that ticking boxes, dotting I’s and crossing T is all that matters. It is true what Mr Green said that we could appeal but to be quite honest with you what would be the point. In response to another post I think refering to the Hambrough Hotel Ventnor that have 2 stars I would have no hesitation eating there (we do not no Robert Thompson but with his experience and knowledge in the industry we would have complete confidence in him serving nothing but safe fresh food.

    As the scheme is at the moment im afraid it does not give a true reflection of an eating establishment maybe it should show you the 3 points you are marked on so the general public can come to there own decision.

  • Tony Green says:

    Paul, I totally agree with your comments but not sure I could pluck up the courage to eat at a restaurant with a 0 or 1 out of 5.

    I would find it hard to believe that any establishment could fall into the worse 2 ratings (0 or 1) out of 6 possible, purely based on form filling. If that proves not to be the case then the ratings system needs looking at as any customer seeing such a rating displayed is likely to draw the same conclusions?

    I am sure any restaurant not happy with their rating will appeal, giving them time to reach at least level 3.

  • PAUL MULLERY says:

    I used to work in Education and was subject to OFSTED inspections. I can sympathise with Mike. On one occasion we were running two identical classes. My colleague obtained a grade 1 and I had a grade 3 based on results. I subsequently discovered that during enrolment he was creaming off the best students and giving me the thick ones and the asylum seekers who could barely speak English. I soon dealt with that and my grade also became 1

    Tony, many-a- time people are doing a superb job but are downgraded on paperwork which has nothing to do with delivery of service. One hospital in the Midlands was given a zero star rating. They sorted out the paperwork and were given 3 stars (highest). Two weeks later they killed a pensioner by giving him the wrong treatment.

    I would need to read the details of the eatery’s grade before I drew any conclusions. If it’s issues with food prep and storage, fine but recording results issues is neither here or there.

  • mike says:

    in response to your comment, firstly you are not warned of a visit (what would be the point of that evryone would have spotless kitchens for one day only fool )
    Th e main point I was trying to make was that we have very good score for hygiene infact the best possible, where we fell down was the box ticking so in other words our kitchen is spotlessly clean but our paper work was not good enough.
    As for form filling it seems in our case that it is more improtant than having a clean kitchen, Next time read our comments more carefully

  • Tony Green says:

    Perhaps Mike you should spend less time ticking boxes and more time addressing the issues relating to why you scored so badly?

    I assume you were warned of the inspection beforehand? Food hygiene is really important to every customer. I wouldn’t want to risk food poisoning in any eating establishment and whislt accepting they may have caught you out on a “bad day” I suspect form filling only plays a small part of the overall assessment?

  • mike says:

    In response to the above. The new rating scheme introduced by the council is different from the Isle Of Wight scheme so how they can change star ratings of business inspected on the old scheme is beyond me, but hey thats the public sector for you. As i understand it there are three different sections business are inspected on (listed below). It is quite possible to have 0/20 the best score possible for hygiene and still have only 1 star we should know before on the old scheme we had 3 stars now on the new scheme we have only 1. Unfortunately we are not very good at box ticking, paper filling, pen pushing but then again we work in the business of wealth generation, job creation to pay for the vasy army of gold plated public sector workers. In my opinion the number one priority for me and my family when we eat out is that the kitchen, kitchen staff are clean and have a good knowledge of safe working practice. To sum up this scheme does not do what it is intended to do.

    Here are our scores below

    *how hygienically the food is handled – how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored 5/20 which is a very good score

    *the condition of the structure of the buildings – the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities 0/20 which is the best score you can get

    *how the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe 20/20
    which is the worst score you can get

    So our overall score was 1 star which is dreadful, we do not feel this is a fair reflection of the bussiness we run, maybe we should spend more time ticking boxes and less time cleaning

  • Neil (Local) says:

    Blimey! Cinnamon in Ryde scoring zero! Hong Kong Express scoring only 1! Really suprised with this especially as i’ve always hadgood food from these!

    Matt and Cat respond: Since this comment was written both Cinnamon and Hong Kong Express have been reassessed and their ratings have improved.

  • Sean says:

    Wow what an interesting read, and site. I was shocked my favourite place for a treat has nearly as many Michelin stars as it does these!!

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