Some Of UK's 'Top Hotels' Have A Poor Food Hygiene Rating - And They're Hiding It From Customers

We'll pass on the breakfast, thanks.

22/02/2017 10:25 GMT

Next time you stay in a hotel overnight you might want to avoid the food.

An investigation by Which? Travel has found that more than 650 UK hotels have a poor food hygiene rating.

Some top hotels - including one with five stars and others with two AA Rosettes - received a food hygiene rating of just one.

Alarmingly, many of these hotels were not displaying their hygiene rating upon inspection. 

In light of the report, the watchdog is calling for a change in rules to ensure all hotels display their rating at all times. 

Family trip to #London or a business venture, we have luxury rooms to accommodate all at #horseguardsldn

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According to the report, a total of 652 UK hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses have poor food hygiene ratings, indicating that improvement is necessary, in some cases urgently.

Each of these properties received a two or below from their local authority on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) 0-5 scale, or an “improvement required” rating in Scotland.

But some choose not to display the ratings provided by inspectors, either on the premises or online.

A number of hotels Which? found with poor hygiene ratings, but high star ratings, include:

  • London’s five-star Royal Horseguards hotel has two AA Rosettes but a hygiene rating of just two.

  • In Birmingham, the four-star Novotel was given a hygiene rating of two for “high-risk food… out of temperature control”.

  • Inspectors at the four-star Copthorne Hotel in Birmingham discovered raw meat stored next to sauces in the fridge and out-of-date seafood, awarding a rating of one.

  • With two AA Rosettes, Best Western’s Dean Court Hotel in York was given a food hygiene rating of just one.

The watchdog sent undercover researchers to do a spot check at eight hotels in London, Birmingham and Northumberland with a food hygiene rating of between 0 and 2. Not one visibly displayed its rating at the time of the visit.

The Food Hygiene Ratings Scheme (FHRS) in England and the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS) in Scotland do not require hotels, B&Bs or guesthouses to publicly display ratings, unlike businesses in Wales and Northern Ireland.

The watchdog is calling for the mandatory display of food hygiene ratings at hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses across the UK, not only outside premises, but also on their websites.

The FSA also believes a compulsory scheme is necessary and is building a case for a mandatory display scheme to be rolled out in England.

Food Standards Scotland is also reviewing a similar scheme and Which? will be sharing its latest research with the FSA.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, said: “Around nine in 10 of us eat at least one meal in our overnight accommodation so it’s vital that hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses have high standards of food hygiene.

“We know that displaying the rating outside the premises encourages higher standards, which is why we support the FSA case for a compulsory display scheme for the whole of the UK.”

In response to the report, a spokesperson at the Royal Horseguards Hotel told The Huffington Post UK: “We are committed to the best possible standards in health and safety for guests and staff. 

“When the Food Safety Department of the City of Westminster City Council visited the hotel in March 2016 we took its findings very seriously. A new senior management team immediately took action to improve standards to the level our staff and customers expect. We also commissioned NSF, a global leader in health and safety, to conduct additional inspections in July and November 2016. 

“These independent reports found significant improvements had been made by the new hotel team and described the kitchen as being ‘exceptionally clean and well maintained’ during an unannounced audit.”

A spokesperson from Best Western GB said they were “hugely disappointed” with the results of the Dean Court Hotel, following the inspection which was conducted in February 2016.

“This was due to a previous head chef’s administrative oversight and clerical error.  We are absolutely confident that the result had nothing to with the food hygiene standards of the hotel, of which they have always proudly scored the maximum of 5/5,” they said.

“The hotel is currently waiting for another inspection and has actively encouraged the York Environmental Health Officer team to expedite this as soon as their resources allow. Whilst waiting for a reassessment, the hotel has paid for a private inspection, which has resulted in a 5/5 score once again.”

A spokesperson from the Novotel Birmingham Centre hotel said: “We took immediate action to correct the issues raised from the inspection. We are currently in the process of applying for re-certification.”

A Copthorne spokesperson explained that “the visit [by inspectors] occurred at a time when standard processes had been disrupted temporarily by a change in the kitchen team”.

“The general manager took immediate action to remedy the faults identified and requested a return visit by environmental health inspectors at the earliest opportunity,” they said.

“At the time of writing (January 2017), a formal visit has not yet been made.” 

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