Eighteen Wimbledon cafés, restaurants and takeaways have received a rating of zero or one for food hygiene, according to the Food Standards Agency.
Two restaurants were slapped with a zero rating in the last twelve months meaning that ‘urgent improvements’ are required while the remaining 16 scored just one meaning ‘major improvements’ need to be made.
Click on the pins below to see the ratings of each establishment.
Several business owners suggest that the ratings system is too harsh and that the score they receive doesn’t truly reflect their hygiene standards.
“I wouldn’t trust the council in a month of Sundays!” Owner of the Good Enough Guesthouse, Catherine Cleere, 66, said.
“Anyone can clean up within five minutes but it’s another thing entirely to be spotless.”
The Good Enough Guesthouse was rated a one because of ‘little confidence in management’, something the owner since 1988 equates to a missing temperature probe and inadequate fire safety precautions.
“All they were concerned about was this probe to ensure our Full English is hot but how do you get a probe in crispy bacon!
“The whole thing is an absolute nonsense and I feel very strongly because we’re spotless,” she said.
“The whole thing is an absolute nonsense and I feel very strongly because we’re spotless.”
The council’s approach to inspections is something the managers from Mae Ping and Curry Royal also conveyed dissatisfaction about.
However Dinos Sphicas, owner of Mica Snack Bar for 35 years, said that he feels the council can be harsh but the onus was on restaurant management to keep their establishments in shape.
His sandwich shop was inspected at the same time as a food delivery and, noticing chicken in close proximity to lettuce, the inspector graded the restaurant a one.
“It was one silly mistake with food story but I should have known better,” he said.
“This isn’t some ongoing saga, the council are really good and I’ve never had a problem before.”
Cabinet Member for Environmental Cleanliness and Parking at Merton Council, Judy Saunders, told SW Londoner that the council viewed food safety standards as a priority.
“We take very seriously our responsibility to ensure restaurants in Wimbledon, and the rest of Merton, are clean and adhere to food safety standards.
“We take very seriously our responsibility to ensure restaurants in Wimbledon, and the rest of Merton, are clean and adhere to food safety standards.”
“We are committed to cracking down on unhealthy establishments and make regular food safety checks.”
In addition to the regular checks Councillor Saunders explained the council sets obligatory performance targets for under-performing restaurants.
Inspections of food businesses are prioritised according to risk.
Premises classified as 0 to 1 on the Food Hygiene Rating System require an inspection every six months, with several revisits scheduled to check on the establishment’s progress.
The council is working with the two zero-rated premises, Golden House Chinese Takeaway and Ahmed Tandoori Restaurant, to ensure higher food standards.
Chefs have taken part in environmental health training programmes and are working to implement a documented food safety management system.
Councillor Saunders said: “We would only close down a food business if we assessed it as an immediate risk to health and, in these circumstances, we would work closely with the owners to ensure they bring their business up to standard.”
Restaurants Aya Lebanese, Charisma Cafe, Good Chef Chinese Takeaway, Indian Gossip, Noodle Foodle Savoy Cafe, Ta-Maki Sushi, Tennessee Chicken, Wilton Lawn Tennis Club and Pavillion and the Prince of Wales Pub were unavailable for comment.
On the pulse: Do you thinking food hygiene ratings should be mandatory in England?
The food hygiene rating scheme is voluntary in England whereas in Wales it’s mandatory.
This score is calculated based on performance in three areas – food hygiene and safety, structural compliance and confidence in management – and serves a role in letting hungry punters know what they’re sinking their teeth into.
We took to the streets of south west London to find out your opinions.
We asked: Do you thinking food hygiene ratings should be mandatory in England?
In our Wimbledon street survey 100% of those asked believed that food hygiene stickers should be mandatory for restaurants to have and display.
“It should be compulsory. Maybe then restaurants will be shamed into doing a better job,” Nadil Khun, 34, a Fulham takeaway owner said.
But Wimbledon resident Laura Murdoch, 35, said she understood the reasoning behind current legislation.
“In an ideal world, everyone would display their hygiene rating and the public would be more knowledgeable.
“Though, who would actively promote their poor food standards? I think it’s a bit unrealistic.
“It’s down to the public to be as discerning as possible but the council could certainly help out more.”
Despite restaurant concerns with the inspection process, the abiding question for most is whether this information should be more readily available.
Public suggestions for improvement ranged from a mobile phone app to quickly check a restaurant’s rating to a newspaper-run ‘shame list’ of under-performing establishments.
Consumers want the guarantee of a good meal that represents value, while safe in the knowledge that their health isn’t at risk. Many turn to online community reviews to ensure they’re not getting bang for their buck.
One TripAdvisor user David R, had been a loyal customer of one of the restaurants on our map for ten years before finding out about their low food rating.
“I’m pretty disgusted that this information isn’t always shared,” he said.
“My health is more important than a few mouthfuls of tasty food and I’m now wondering if unknowingly I’ve been gambling with my health each time I’ve been there. It’s frightening.”
Featured picture courtesy of Quinn Comendant, with thanks