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Revealed: How clean is your favourite restaurant in Norfolk?

PUBLISHED: 14:52 07 March 2016 | UPDATED: 14:52 07 March 2016

The Merge Bar and Restaurant, Dereham Road, Norwich, was one of the establishments which received the lowest possible score in the food hygiene ratings. Picture: Denise Bradley

The Merge Bar and Restaurant, Dereham Road, Norwich, was one of the establishments which received the lowest possible score in the food hygiene ratings. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant

Explore our interactive map to find out the latest food hygiene ratings for Norfolk’s restaurants, cafés and takeaways which have been inspected in the last six months.

Key:

Dark green = 5 - very good

Light green = 4 - good

Yellow = 3 - generally satisfactory

Norfolk’s ‘zero rated’ establishments for food hygiene

•South Norfolk - The Cherry Tree, High Street, Wicklewood. September 2015.

•Norwich - Ali Andos, Unthank Road. November 2015. Merge bar and restaurant, Dereham Road, Norwich. September 2015.

•Great Yarmouth - Energy Chinese Buffet, Marine Parade. August 2015. Hollywood Diner, Beach Road, Hemsby. September 2015. Sea Chef, Britannia Pier. August 2015. The Alexandra Restaurant, Regent Road. June 2015. The Columbia Taverna, Crown Road. October 2015. The Old Manor Café, Manor Road, Caister-on-Sea. July 2015. Filby Post Office Stores, Main Road, Filby. November 2015. Palmers, Market Place. February 2016. Bar-B-Que House, King Street. July 2015. Hemsby Kebab, Beach Road, Hemsby. December 2015. Mandarin, Bells Road, Gorleston. September 2015. Spicy Papadum, Tan Lane, Caister. December 2015. The Food Palace, Beach Road, Hemsby. September 2015. Top Gem, St Peter’s Road. November 2015. USA Chicken, St Peter’s Road. August 2015 and Youngs Chinese Takeaway, Bell Lane, Belton. November 2015.

•Waveney - Aphrodite, The Esplanande. July 2015. Flying Dutchman, Beccles Road. November 2015. New Shanghai, Love Road. August 2015. and Pearl Chinese, Church Road, Kessingland. July 2015.

•North Norfolk - Coast Kebab, New Street, Cromer. February 2016.

•Kings Lynn & West Norfolk - Kebabland, Wootton Road, Gaywood. December 2015.

Light orange = 2 - improvement necessary

Dark orange = 1 - major improvement necessary

Red = 0 - urgent improvement necessary

The region’s restaurants, cafés and takeaways are cleaning up their act in terms of food hygiene, an investigation has found.

Six months on from our special report which found that almost one in 10 food places in Norfolk and Waveney were failing to meet standards, analysis of the latest ratings shows the picture has improved.

However, council chiefs said today more work needed to still be done to ensure the public could be satisfied that wherever they 
choose to eat is meeting expected standards.

Since June 2015, more than 3,000 food places have been assessed by council hygiene inspectors and given a rating out of five.

Some 7pc were found to be non-compliant, which means they were rated two or below.

That figure was an improvement of 2pc when compared to the first six months of 2015 and was a 1pc improvement on the national average.

However, since last June, 25 eateries in the region scored a zero out of five from food hygiene inspectors – with 16 of those in Great Yarmouth alone.

Such places are given a certain amount of time to clean up their act and could face prosecution if the breaches are deemed serious enough.

One in 10 eateries in the Yarmouth area do not meet the required level set by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), a problem acknowledged by Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

Councillor Carl Smith said: “Great Yarmouth has a unique problem in that we have a significant number of seasonal short term businesses with a high turnover of owners.

“This causes difficulties in ensuring sustained improvement. Often the benefits of this work is lost when a business closes and does not trade again the following year.”

In Norwich, eateries improved their compliance by 6pc, with only two restaurants receiving a score of zero.

One of the places that received the lowest possible score was Merge Bar and restaurant, an all-you-can-eat Asian buffet on Dereham Road.

Among the contraventions of food hygiene standards recorded against the restaurant were:

• Pigeons had access to the restaurant and were found to be roosting in the roof, with evidence of feathers and droppings also found.

• Both flies and fruit flies were seen in the store rooms and around the bar at the premises.

• Food was not being disposed of properly, with flies and maggots evident in an open black bin liner.

Merge was repeatedly called for comment but did not return our calls.

Ali Andos, on Unthank Road in Norwich, which recorded a zero last November, has since made dramatic improvements to its hygiene according to new owner Ali Bari.

Mr Bari said: “There were a few little things that weren’t done, so they gave me all the details on everything and I managed to fix everything within a week.

“I’ve since had a meeting with the council to outline what we’ve done and they’re coming back this month to re-score.”

Mr Bari said he believes food hygiene is a crucial aspect of operating a food business.

“Of course, my customers deserve good hygiene, it’s very important,” he said. “I have an open-plan kitchen and I cook in front of them. I have nothing to hide.”

Norwich city councillor Keith Driver, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said: “It is clear that businesses are taking food safety seriously, but we know that there is always room for improvement.”

The most improved performer of the eight councils assessed was Broadland, which saw a 9pc increase in compliance.

A spokesman for Broadland District Council said: “We are delighted that our hard work with businesses in the past year has borne fruit and more of them are doing very well.”

Apart from Great Yarmouth’s decline, only North Norfolk and Breckland councils saw the number of not-compliant businesses slightly increase.

According to the FSA, the food hygiene rating scheme gives residents the chance to make an informed choice about where they eat.

A spokeswoman said: “We know from our research that the scheme is working – increasing numbers of people are using the online ratings database to make choices about where to eat and it is driving up hygiene standards in food businesses.”

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