Food safety chiefs roast Edinburgh council over poor hygiene

The City of Edinburgh Council headquarters on East Market Street, Edinburgh
The City of Edinburgh Council headquarters on East Market Street, Edinburgh
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KITCHEN staff at Edinburgh City Council headquarters have been ordered to improve their hygiene standards ­– after receiving a failing grade from their own inspectors.

Food safety officers skewered canteen workers at the Waverley Court building on East Market street for a series of health violations, including concerns over the “frequency of handwashing” during food preparation.

The report, produced by local authority health inspectors under the guidance of Food Standards Scotland (FSS), also raised issues with the incorrect storage and handling of food on site, passing down an “improvement required” grade.

According to the findings – made available through a Freedom of Information request – assessors found evidence staff were not washing their hands frequently enough between tasks.

Concerns were raised over the incorrect storage and handling of raw and cooked food.

Inspectors also found a lack of facilities for hand drying, recommending paper towels be provided to staff.

The kitchen was told to review its policy for cleaning food preparation areas.

Other citations included the unsanitary mixing of chopping boards and a lack of information over which products included genetically modified foods.

FSS inspections are carried out by the local authority under the guidance of the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS) with the quality of hygiene provision graded in one of two categories.

A pass rating shows the business in question has “broadly met the legal requirements in its food hygiene inspection and that procedures and processes are in place for providing safe food”.

However, where a business has failed to meet these requirements it will be issued with an “Improvement Required” certificate.

Local authorities are given power to set the frequency of their inspections, although the scheme is entirely voluntary and businesses cannot be made to display the results of their report.

Waverley Court, which caters for around 2000 council staff members, was the only council-operated building to receive a failing grade.

A council spokeswoman said the issues had been addressed following the inspection.

She added: “We take hygiene standards very seriously when handling and preparing food in all of our catering facilities.

“All of the actions highlighted have all been implemented, including providing additional training for staff.”

The spokeswoman continued: “We have employed a new catering manager since this inspection was carried out, who will ensure that we continue to meet the highest possible standards of hygiene in our catering facilities across the council.”

An FSS spokesman said: “Food Standards Scotland strongly encourages all food businesses to display their food hygiene information scheme certificate and/or sticker publicly in their premises.

“All FHIS ratings can be found on our website.”