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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 May, 2003, 04:11 GMT 05:11 UK
Takeaway outlets 'filthy'
Raw meat and fish was stored above salad in one outlet

Takeaway outlets have been warned to improve standards after outlets were found to have flouted basic hygiene rules.

Food was being prepared in filthy conditions at some takeaways in London, Manchester and north Lanarkshire, according to an investigation by the consumer magazine Which?

It is calling for all eateries to be approved by environmental health officers before they can open.

Routine inspections by environmental health officers at 12 takeaways found dirty premises, food stored in the wrong conditions and staff who were poorly trained.

This [published inspection reports] would allow consumers to make informed choices about where to buy and eat food
Helen Parker
Which? editor

Although there were officially about 100,000 food poisoning cases in the UK in 2001, the real number could be nearer 1.3 million as many cases go unreported, according to Which?

A kebab shop in Manchester had its floor "littered" with dead and dying cockroaches, two weeks after a pest control contractor had been.

An in a fish and chip shop in the city inspectors found the floor dirty with "food debris and grime" and bins in an alley behind the shop overflowing with rubbish.

Unsanitary conditions

The toilets in two of the takeaways had no soap or hand towels.

In a Chinese takeaway in London there was raw meat and fish stored above salad in a fridge, despite the risk of cross-contamination.

Cleaning chemicals were found stored above vegetables.

The editor of Which?, Helen Parker, said the investigation supported the magazine's long-running campaign for food premises to be approved by environmental health officers before they open.

"We also think councils should publicise their inspection findings for all food premises.

"This would allow consumers to make informed choices about where to buy and eat food, and encourage businesses to raise their standards."

Have you had any bad experiences with takeaway food? Would investigations such as this turn you off fast food?

Your comments:

A few years ago a friend of mine went out on a Saturday night. He went to pubs and a club and afterwards headed off to a local takeaway in Scarborough, Yorkshire. He bought a bucket of chicken and ate most of it on the walk home. He got home and carried on eating the chicken but fell asleep on the sofa. The next morning he woke up and looked at the half eaten piece of chicken which he had eaten to see that it wasn't in fact chicken he had taken a few bites of, it was a rat which had been covered in the southern fried coating. He reported it to the local council's environmental health department who shut down the takeaway straight away.
Neil Bradley, UK

I have stopped eating meals from fast food outlets for a couple of reasons. One reason was watching flies crawl all over the ingredients at a pizza counter just after my pizza had been placed in their oven. I cancelled my order and have never been back. I would welcome a naming and shaming campaign of all food outlets, not just fast food, as the current standards seem to be extremely low.
Allan, Scotland

I once ordered sweet and sour chicken from a local Chinese in Cardiff. On returning home with the meal I found the chicken was still frozen in the middle, obviously they had simply battered the frozen chicken pieces and then quickly fried them. I returned to the take away to complain and was told that I was mistaken and that the journey home was to blame for the chicken being 'cold'. I was then told to leave. I did so only after announcing to their customers what I found, the shop duly emptied and I then left - in a hurry! I shudder to think what might have happened if I had given some of the meal to my daughter.
Ed, Wales

I once ate a pizza from a takeaway in Chesterfield and was violently sick the next day. I'll never go into that shop again! I would not be put off fast food if the investigations yielded good results in the end.
Dave, England

My parents own a Chinese takeaway and have always been in the catering business. They have brought me up to be extremely hygiene-conscious when it comes to the storage and preparation of food (to the point where my housemates at uni would think I was obsessive!). The media often highlights cases where caterers have failed hygiene inspections with stories that make my stomach turn. What about all the people like my parents who are exceeding the expectations of the hygiene officers? I agree with the Which? Editor - findings should be published so that the general public can have confidence in the knowledge that there are some fast food outlets out there that are following the industry guidelines.
JW, England

I don't think these findings will put me off fast food, but it would be good to know that I could, say go online and look at a directory of all outlets to see their history before buying.
Justin Dyson, UK

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