Poor food hygiene across Stockport means almost one hundred takeaways and sandwich shops in the town require standards to be improved, MM can reveal.
According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Stockport has 95 outlets rated as below satisfactory following inspections by the local authority – the highest of any Greater Manchester borough.
Of these establishments, 13 have the lowest possible ranking – the joint-highest with Bolton – although Stockport Council’s Executive Member for Communities and Sustainability refuses to tar all outlets similarly.
“Since this scheme was introduced nearly two years ago, the number of outlets across the board in the three to five category has increased by 58 while there has been a decrease in the zero to two category by 12,” said Councillor Stuart Bodsworth.
“The Council supports the rating scheme as it provides residents with useful information to allow them to make informed choices about where to eat.
“The Council takes food hygiene very seriously and we target our resources on the highest risk food businesses, combining the provision of advice with rigorous enforcement where needed.
“The ratings scheme provides an incentive for businesses to improve their standards and the Council works hard with businesses to ensure this happens.”
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, also known as ‘scores on the doors’, gives all food premises a score between zero – urgent improvement needed – and five – very good hygiene standards.
And Andrew Stunell MP, Hazel Grove’s parliamentary representative, believes there is plenty of scope for the borough’s takeaway and sandwich shops to up their game.
There are currently 307 takeaways and sandwich shops in Stockport rated as part of the scheme, with a variety of other establishments including bars, pubs and restaurants also inspected.
Only 20% of outlets assessed in Stockport are takeaways and sandwich shops, and across the board 86% fall within the three to five category.
Nevertheless, Rob Irvine, a 30-year-old civil servant from Stockport, is surprised by the volume of takeaways and sandwich shops requiring improvement.
“It is quite shocking. I don’t have many takeaways but I do every now and again.
“I knew about ‘scores on the doors’ but I haven’t previously consulted it before ordering. I will from now on.”
Greater Manchester became the first large metropolitan area to be covered by the FSA’s ratings scheme in 2011, when all ten of the city’s local authorities signed up.
The FSA works in conjunction with councils so consumers have an idea of hygiene standards within the country’s eateries and food dispensaries.
Catriona Stewart, Head of the FSA’s Food Hygiene Ratings Team, said: “People shouldn’t have to take a risk with their health when eating out or shopping for food.
“That’s why the rating scheme has been introduced so that people can use the information to vote with their feet.
“It enables them to choose places with the highest standards and avoid those that don’t meet the grade.”
Marina Aldarcon, a 23-year-old student from Cheadle, regularly uses the ratings website to check for hygiene standards and believes it is in the public’s best interest to do so.
“It is always reassuring to see the signs outside pubs and restaurants with a score of 5 – I guess the bad ones don’t publicise their scores as much,” she said.
“I do check the FSA website and will continue to do so, with good reason looking at some of the low scores across Stockport.”
Labour MP Ann Coffey, whose Stockport constituency has the highest number of takeaways and sandwich shops rated as zero in the borough, was unavailable for comment.
Picture courtesy of reway2007, with thanks.