Pike’s zero grade for food hygiene

FOOD hygiene is improving at the town’s eateries and outlets, according to latest figures.

Only one outlet, The Pike restaurant in Pelham Arcade, has the lowest mark of zero, under the Food Standards Agency rating system. This grade means urgent improvements are necessary.

Inspectors rank businesses on how hygienically food is handled, the cleanliness of the building and the records it keeps.

But Bahram Khan, owner of The Pike, said: “I can’t understand how they do these ratings. We aim to produce first-class, quality food.

“We do our best to maintain the place but in a catering business you will get grease.”

In 2010, Mr Khan was fined £9,000 after admitting 26 health and hygiene safety breaches in court.

Aside from The Pike, recent figures are encouraging.

When the rating scheme was launched in April last year, nine eateries and shops were given the worst possible rating.

The number of premises scoring 1, indicating major improvements are needed, has more than halved over this time period to 41.

And the amount of outlets with the top rating of 5 has increased, and now stands at 347.

In a separate grading scale, Hastings Borough Council says the number of food businesses that are broadly compliant with hygiene law rose from 84 per cent in March last year to 89 per cent this year.

Councillor Phil Scott, the borough’s lead member for environment, said: “There are now 347 premises in the area that have achieved the highest rating of 5 and we believe this terrific improvement is down to a combination of factors.

“The support and advice of our environmental health staff when they visit and inspect food businesses and the fact that the proprietors recognise that improving their rating should increase business.”

“ This improvement runs deeper than just the reduced number of zero rated premises as we have also seen the proportion of food businesses that are evaluated by our inspectors as being ‘broadly compliant’ with hygiene law increase from 84 per cent last March to 89 per cent this March. This is really good news for Hastings and an excellent incentive for tourists to come and visit the town and eat in our takeaways and restaurants.”