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Clean Cafés: The North-Easts high hygiene standards

19th January 2020 Print

Owners of restaurants and cafes will be no stranger to the importance of an eye for detail to make sure your eatery meets the UK’s hygiene standards.

The Food Standards Agency is an organisation that upholding these standards, making regular evaluations of establishments across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They cover a wide range of business types, from hospitals, mobile caterers, schools and universities, as well as farmers and growers. We delved into the restaurant, café, and canteen sector in areas across the North East to gain a better understanding of just how clean the region is eating!

FAQs on food hygiene standards 

Assessments are in partnership with local authorities — the rating is determined by a food safety officer from the local authority, following an inspection where various aspects are assessed. Some of these include: 

- How food safety is managed 

- Cleanliness of facilities 

- Handling of food 

- Preparation of food

- Storage of food 

Your hygiene rating will not be dependent on food quality or presentation, customer service or comfort. Instead, it focuses on the standards of the actual food and the process involved prior to it being served to customers. 

In regard to the hospitality sector, customer safety is priority. Many high-profile allergy contamination cases have made mainstream news, amplifying the plight to raise awareness of the given standards. Despite an increase in the amount of people who report becoming ill as a result of food, food poisoning cases look to be declining steadily, dropping from 3,070 reported cases in 2017, to 2,192 cases reported by April 2019. Food hygiene standards will influence this figure, and as a result business need to be cautious when it comes to meeting these requirements. 

You’re probably familiar with the food hygiene rating stick displayed in eateries. However, having the sticker visible is only mandatory in Wales and Northern Ireland, with a voluntary choice to show it in England. Aspects such as ventilation, lighting and pest control will all contribute to the overall rating of a venue, while training and employee hygiene are also taken into account. Businesses which fall short of a five star-rating are offered advice on how they can improve their rating. So, let’s take a look at how the North East’s restaurants, cafes and canteens fared!

Scores on the doors for the North East 

Northern cities Durham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Sunderland are great for food. It’s no wonder, as all kinds of tasty cuisines up for grabs throughout the bustling city centre of each! The food scene in each city is relatively different though, from trendy container venues in the heart of Newcastle, to beachside cafes perfect for taking in the fresher, saltier air at Roker and Seaburn and Sunday lunch in Seaham, Sunderland to traditional eateries and pubs in Durham with a wealth of history — take a tour through the many pubs. Some of the region’s most traditional dishes have stuck around though, from stottie cakes to saveloy dip and pease pudding. In Newcastle, 62% of eateries in our ‘restaurants, cafes, and canteens’ category boasted a five-star food hygiene rating, with 428 out of 690 venues securing the top score. Venturing south east of the River Tyne and into Sunderland, 71% of restaurants, bars and cafes hold a five-star food hygiene rating. In Durham, more than half of all venues in were commended in their FSA inspection with a five-star status, adding to the glowing report of the region’s major cities. 

It isn’t just cities that have been given high hygiene awards — many towns across the North East have earned them too. The five-star ratings were distributed to 88% of restaurants, cafes and canteens in Darlington, 84% of venues in Hartlepool and 84.6% in Stockton on Tees. Further up into the picturesque region of Northumberland where you’ll find a charming selection of hotels in Alnwick, the stunning fortress at Bamburgh Castle and unrivalled stretches of idyllic coastline looking out onto the expanse that is the North Sea. Venture south and you’ll find the borough of Redcar and Cleveland, where the five-star food hygiene rating has been awarded to 80.6% of cafes, canteens, and restaurants.

The North East is certainly home to high hygiene standards when it comes to food, so make sure you explore the different options available!