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Where You Choose to Eat Out Can be a Risky Decision

     A two year survey of food hygiene standards carried out by a UK-based consumer watchdog has found a wide variation in standards across the country.

Using the country's postcode system the organisation was able to identify the worst-performing areas of the country for Food Standards Agency hygiene ratings, with parts of South-East London coming bottom of the list.

In the worst-performing post code fewer than half of the places to eat that were inspected had achieved the FSA's "generally satisfactory" rating.

The survey looked at all types of outlets, from large retail restaurant chains to smaller independents offering meals as well as some convenience stores.

According to a director of the consumer watchdog the results revealed a "postcode lottery" which in some areas meant diners were subjected to greater health risks purely because of where they had chosen to go out for a meal.

Prosecutions for infringements of food safety standards are a responsibility of local government departments and many publish the results of their prosecutions, some of which make alarming reading.

Typical of inspectors' findings are greasy cookers and walls in commercial kitchens, accumulations of food waste, poor staff training and quite frequently evidence of mouse infestations.

This comment is a typical example from an inspection report: "There was mouse activity throughout the premises and mouse droppings were found on lids used to cover foods."

If the restaurant owner ends up in court as a result of these kinds of failures then fines range between GBP2000 and GBP8000 plus costs. Fines like these are a significant amount of money for a smaller restaurant to lose from its annual turnover, quite apart from the bad publicity of being found guilty and the resulting risk of losing custom.

Mice will take up residence anywhere that there is a ready supply of food and kitchen extraction systems, which include filters and ductwork above cookers, are a potentially ideal habitat for rodents unless they are regularly cleaned and cleared of the food particles, grease and mould that can settle inside the ductwork.

Kitchen extract cleaning would therefore remove one potential attraction for wildlife as well as being necessary for fire prevention because grease in ductwork is regularly cited by the fire service as the source of commercial kitchen fires.

It is helpful to call in a professional kitchen extraction cleaning service to inspect the extraction system, filters and access points and make recommendations for any alterations that would make it possible to ensure the whole system can be thoroughly cleaned.

Professional cleaners will ensure that the work is carried out properly using effective machinery and cleaning agents and many also apply a coating to the inside of the ductwork surface to help protect the system from further deposits for longer.

In kitchens where there is a heavy daily activity and where the kind of food produced may be cooked in oil or use significant quantities of spice, the build-up of deposits on ductwork can be considerable and therefore the need for regular kitchen extract cleaning could be as frequently as every three months.

An experienced professional company would be able to advise on frequency and how to protect the system and will also provide a report and certificate once it has carried out the job.

Copyright (c) 2013 Alison Withers

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In some parts of the UK where people choose to dine out can be a risky business according to a survey by a consumer watchdog. Perhaps it's time for thorough kitchen extraction cleaning. By Ali Withers.

Posted on 2013-06-22, By: *

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Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author.

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