OVER 30 food premises were given a caution or improvement notice by Bradford Council in the past year – and two were prosecuted for breaking food hygiene laws.
There are currently 4,477 food businesses in the Bradford district, including 96 supermarkets, 721 restaurants and cafes and 709 takeaways, in addition to the hundreds of schools, small food stores and hotels that serve food.
There are also 601 registered farms.
Tomorrow Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee will be given an update on the Food Safety Service Plan for the coming year.
They will hear that the Food Safety Team is having to deal with the thousands of premises with a depleted team of staff, sometimes having to hire contractors to carry out food inspections.
The team has the power to act when businesses breach hygiene or food standards rules, and in the 2017/18 year the team handed out 27 improvement notices to food premises and issued five cautions. Two prosecutions were carried out, and 11 premises voluntarily closed after the team started enforcement action.
The report reveals that Bradford is currently falling short of meeting its targets for the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, also known as ‘scores on the doors’.
Although most businesses score well on the rating system, getting a level three or above, seven per cent achieved a two or below.
The target is for 95 per cent target of businesses to be rated at least a three.
But the district is performing better than five years ago, when just 86 per cent of businesses met the target.
The report also reveals that the food safety team have seen a reduction in staff, due to non-replacement of staff that have left, reductions in hours and retirements.
There are currently 11 full-time roles. The department has had to take on trainee officers, who are restricted in what duties they are able to carry out. The shortages have also led to the council hiring contractors to undertake some food hygiene inspections.
The report adds: “To manage the delivery of the service as required by statute increasingly alternative interventions are being utilised and revisits are only carried out when serious issues have been identified.
“The national average for 2017 was one officer per 312 premises; on this basis we would require an additional four officers.”
The team receives on average 250 registrations for new food businesses every year, with each one requiring an inspection.
High turnover in the food industry is also straining the service, according to the report. It says: “An inspection with a new owner takes longer and involves a lot of help and support. In 2017 / 2018 we identified approximately 500 new business owners at the inspection.”
Businesses are placed in different levels of risk, with the most high risk inspected every six months.
The committee meets in City Hall at 5.30pm.