TWENTY food outlets in Wycombe need to make ‘urgent’ improvements to meet food hygiene standards - according to a ratings system used by our councils.

This figure includes takeaway outlets, restaurants, shops and pubs which have scored ‘zero’ of out five in the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.

Firms are given a green sticker to display their rating in the window, but are not required to do this.

However, you can easily check the rating of almost every food business in the county on the Food Standards Agency website. The website includes the option to sort the results by rating - CLICK HERE

The scheme has now been running for several months in Wycombe, with 900 premises inspected to help people choose where to eat out or shop for food.

Currently 84 food outlets are rated as one out of five – indicating ‘major improvements’ are necessary. However, nearly 300 premises in Wycombe have scored a ‘very good’ five out of five.

Inspectors look at how hygienically the food is handled, as well as the condition of the buildings and how the firm records what it does to make sure food is safe.

Wycombe District Council, which operates the scheme, said some of the zero ratings reflect “a lack of a formal documented food safety management system”, while other firms may have made improvements since the last inspection.

Spokesman Nick Sykes added: “Where there are serious contraventions that pose an imminent risk to public health, we do take action to protect this (which can include closing the premises down).

“In all other cases we take the appropriate enforcement action to secure compliance in line with our protocol.”

Cllr Audrey Jones, the council’s cabinet member for environment said it is “vitally important that food is prepared and cooked in the correct manner”.

But asked if the council advises people to avoid firms with a zero rating, Mr Sykes said: “This is not our role, the scheme provides information to the public to allow them to make informed decisions.”

The South Bucks district has about 480 food outlets - just over half the total in Wycombe - but only 11 of those have been given a rating of zero or one [with three rated zero]. Chiltern has about 600 outlets, with 45 given the bottom two ratings [with two rated zero].

For the ratings in South Bucks click HERE and for Chiltern click HERE

For more information on the ratings system click HERE