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Checklist for ‘inadequate’ restaurant hygiene

Published on 13/07/2005

13 July 2005

BRUSSELS — General hygiene in the hotel and catering industry needs to improve despite the overall absence of dangerous germs and substances found during food production inspections last year, the Belgian Food Agency has said.

The Federal Agency for Safety and the Food Chain (FAVV) said the standards of hygiene in the nation’s cafés and restaurants were below par when compared with the rest of the food production industry, which scored well.
The agency also said in its annual report a practical checklist will help restaurants improve cleanliness, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported on Wednesday.

This is despite the fact the generic thrust of the report was that few traces of dangerous substances or germs were found in food industry inspections industry last year, neither in the production nor the retail sector.

The kitchen is still a sore point, however, both commercial and private kitchens: 65 percent of the 6,977 cafés and restaurants inspected were given an unsatisfactory rating in terms of hygiene.

“The basic rules — washing hands, respecting the cold-to-warm chain, cleaning — are reasonably well observed. But there is often no plan to tackle the risks of microbiological infection,” FAVV official Piet Vanthemsche said.

He said businesses not linked with an industry association are the worst, due partly to the high turnover of owners. They miss the basic knowledge and guidance that bigger premises have to reduce health risks.

“A discussion with the sector has started to become more lenient on smaller establishments. Instead of enforcing overly theoretical obligations, we are offering a practical checklist with issues they need to watch out for,” Vanthemsche said.

After the inspections of hamburger shops in 2003, Asian takeaway stores were targeted last year. In 153 inspections, 4.5 percent scored failed tests on the amount of germs found. A further 6.6 percent failed the enterobacteriaceae test, indicating sub-standard general hygiene.

Large kitchens in schools, hospitals and elderly homes also scored poorly, with 62.2 percent given an unsatisfactory rating. However, Vanthemsche said the sector is trying to improve by drawing up a good practices guide and a better observance of storage guidelines.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news