14/01/2019 00:01 GMT | Updated 14/01/2019 16:41 GMT

Just Eat Was Promoting Takeaways With Zero Hygiene Ratings As 'Local Legends', Investigation Finds

BBC Panorama made some shocking discoveries.

Mike Kemp via Getty Images

More than 100 food outlets listed on Just Eat have the lowest possible hygiene rating and some were even promoted as the “‘crème de la crème’ of takeaways”.

An investigation by BBC Panorama found a number were given a coveted ‘Local Legend’ label despite the app claiming only restaurants with the highest food hygiene ratings could qualify.

A restaurant contacted by the programme in Greater Manchester, Tong Feng House, had five-star customer reviews on the Just Eat app, but research showed it also had a zero hygiene rating from the Food Standards Agency. 

A zero rating means the business “needs to make urgent improvements to their food hygiene standards”.

Just Eat removed ‘Local Legend’ status from Karo’s Pizza in Liverpool when it was brought to their attention that the business had a zero rating for hygiene.

The company told Panorama: “This should not have happened. As soon as we were notified we took immediate steps to rectify this and can confirm that this restaurant no longer has Local Legend status.

“We are investigating how this has happened to stop this from happening again.”

The programme also found some establishments said theit food was safe to eat by someone with allergies, claims later found to be false.

Just Eat, the biggest online food delivery app in the UK, doesn’t currently require restaurants to provide any allergen information on their app or website. 

One restaurant was unable to provide even basic, legally required, allergen information when asked by an undercover reporter.

All food businesses are legally required to be able to provide information about fourteen major allergens, which includes being able to tell customers whether a meal contains nuts, dairy, gluten, or wheat – all which can be life-threatening. 

The undercover Panorama reporter was assured by an employee of Tong Feng House over the phone that the chicken chow mein meal did not contain any wheat, an ingredient which can cause allergic reactions most commonly found in children and which can be severe.

After the meal was collected and sent for testing, it was found to have a high wheat content.

A restaurant in Birmingham, Mama Mia Pizza, which was also found to have a zero hygiene rating, sold a burger to the Panorama reporter that they said did not contain any wheat. 

Testing found the burger contained gluten, a general name for the proteins found in wheat which can cause a reaction amongst allergy sufferers.

Just Eat told BBC Panorama they were “concerned to learn about the individual restaurants not providing accurate information”.

“We launched an immediate investigation and have already offered further support and training”, they said.

Tong Feng House told the programme a new staff member provided the incorrect information and they are retraining their team.