Restaurant owners insist food hygiene is high
TWO publicans have insisted their businesses will “more than meet” hygiene standards when they are next inspected by Exeter City Council.
Lionel Lavoine, who runs the Passage House Inn in Topsham and David Carr of the Heart of Oak in Pinhoe, which is currently registered as “awaiting inspection”, both say reports released by the council paint an unfair picture of their establishments.
The Echo reported last week, following a freedom of information request, that inspectors from Exeter City Council’s environmental health team had issued 29 restaurants, cafes and food businesses with one out of five hygiene ratings in the past 12 months, which means that “major improvement is necessary” in terms of food safety.
The Passage House Inn in Ferry Road, Topsham, is one of those but Mr Lavoine said:
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“We have never been lower than a score of four before this inspection.
“We take price in our work and in the cleanliness of our kitchen - I take great care to ensure everything is spotless.
“The reporting of our last inspection could have such a negative effect and I do not feel it is a fair reflection of our business.
“The main problems which were found related to paperwork and we have taken measures to fulfil the recommendations that were made and put new systems in place.
“One of the other issues related to cream and cheese being stored at a temperature above what is required in the beer cellar but it had only just arrived as part of a delivery and was going to be transferred to the chiller as we would do with all items of that type. The inspector said he also found dirt but he came right at the end of service and what he saw was going to be cleaned up very quickly.
“Having the one rating is very misleading and I am certain that when we are reinspected we will again be four or five. I own the business and am also the chef, and I am known for letting people see into the kitchen to see how their meals are being prepared. They can see what is going on and are always happy. Come and see us, any time of day and I will be happy to show you how clean we are and how much we care about it.
“As I said, I am the chef, it is my reputation and I do all I can every day to make sure we have the highest standards.”
The Heart of Oak in Main Road, Pinhoe, which is owned by Heavitree Brewery, was given a one out of five rating last March but, as the Echo stated in its report, it has now been reclassified as “awaiting inspection” after the city council acknowledged that it was under new management and it had not reinspected the premises to assess whether it had improved, despite pledging to do so.
David Carr, took over the running of the pub last April and said: “As I hope I have made clear, the one out of five rating was given the Heart of Oak before I took over. The inspection was in March and I took over in April.
“Exeter City Council was due to come and reinspect last May but no-one ever turned up. I raised this with the council last week and they agreed to remove the one out of five rating and replace it with an ‘awaiting inspection’ notice. I am certain that when we are inspected we will be at least four if not five out of five for hygiene.
“I put a lot of work in changing the systems that were in place to raise standards after I took over.
“I have appointed two new chefs and they, along with the staff and myself, have worked so hard to bring the kitchen and the pub up to the highest possible standard.
“I just want the council to come and inspect us as soon as possible so that we can get the hygiene rating we deserve.”
The Echo is happy to clarify that Streets Cafe in City Arcade, Fore Street, does not have a one out of five rating. The cafe was not named in the Echo’s report but owner Izzy Street said a number of customers mistakenly believed it had.
The cafe currently has a five out of five rating and the ratings for all restaurants, cafe and food businesses can be found at ratings.food.gov.uk