Credit: Mark Wyatt
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Hygiene Horror: Cathays takeaways score low on food safety

By Toby Holloway

Gair Rhydd has acquired information concerning the food hygiene ratings of numerous restaurants, cafes, and kebab shops in Cardiff.

Following an investigation by Gair Rhydd, it has been revealed that many establishments popular with Cardiff University students scored below what is deemed by the Food Standards Agency as ‘generally satisfactory’.

The Food Standards Agency works with local authorities to rate businesses out of five for overall food hygiene, and considers three key elements in doing so. According to the Food Standards Agency website, food.gov.uk, these include “how hygienically the food is handled”, “the condition of the structure of the buildings”, and “how the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe”.

There are six possible scores that can be given to businesses by food safety officers, ranging from zero – ‘urgent improvement necessary’, to five – ‘very good’. To score a zero, a restaurant, cafe or kebab shop would have to perform poorly in all three areas of food hygiene, whilst also possessing a history of food safety problems.

Food hygiene ratings are essentially a measure of how safe the food at any given place is to eat, and can be very influential in a potential customer’s choice of where to dine. Out of the 1315 Cardiff businesses that received a food hygiene rating, 11 scored zero, whilst many others were rated below three.

Gair Rhydd also conducted a survey of 139 people, in order to find out which of Cardiff’s takeaways students frequent most, which of these have low food hygiene ratings, and if there is a link between these things and cases of students suffering from food poisoning after eating in certain places.

The Family Fish Bar was revealed as Cardiff’s most popular takeaway, with 41.7 per cent of people saying it was their favourite place to get food after a night out. McDonald’s came in second with 32.4 per cent of people saying it was their favourite, whilst T&A Kebabs was third with 20.9 per cent.

Despite being the most popular takeaway among those who answered the questionnaire, The Family Fish Bar received one of the lowest scores for food safety earlier in the year, with a rating of only one out of five. However, its has since improved this, with a recent inspection granting them a new rating of four out of five, or ‘good’.

All the branches of McDonald’s in Cardiff scored the full five out of five, however there was ‘improvement necessary’ at T&A Kebabs, who managed only a two out of five.

Chicken Cottage was selected by two out of the 139 people surveyed as their favourite place to buy food after a night out, however the city centre branch on St Mary’s Street scored the lowest food hygiene rating possible, with zero out of five. This means that it failed in all three elements of food safety, and has been advised that urgent improvement is necessary in order to avoid closure.

Cathays Fish and Chips on Crwys road also scored the lowest possible rating, as did Andalucia Kebab House and Spicy Hut, both on City Road.

Many other businesses received a rating of one, which means ‘major improvement necessary’, including popular student outlets the Family Fish Bar and Mama’s Kebab House, both on Salisbury Road. Despite this, 10 per cent of respondents said that Mama’s was their favourite place to eat after a night out.

Gair Rhydd also asked those who responded to the questionnaire if they considered food hygiene rating when deciding where to eat, and also whether or not a poor food hygiene rating would put them off eating at a particular place.

15.2 per cent of people said that they always take food hygiene rating into account when choosing a place to eat at, whilst 41.3 per cent said they sometimes take it into account. 26.1 replied with rarely, and 12.3 per cent said they never thought about hygiene ratings when deciding where to eat.

In spite of only 15.2 per cent of respondents saying that they would always take food hygiene ratings into account when deciding where to eat, 60.4 per cent declared that a low rating would put them off eating somewhere. 32.4 per cent said maybe, whilst five per cent said they would not be bothered by a low rating.

The questionnaire also asked whether respondents had ever had food poisoning, and if so, where. There were 23 responses to this question, three of which stated that they had contracted food poisoning from Chicken Cottage. Three others said that they had become ill following a meals at KFC, two after dining at Snack Shack, and one as a result of eating food from Woodville Fish Bar.

Third year JOMEC student Jasper Wilkins suffered from food poisoning after eating from a Chinese takeaway in Cathays. He said: “Getting hospitalised with food poisoning the night before Varsity was not ideal, but it still wouldn’t put me off getting a dodgy kebab after a night out”.

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