A “gourmet burger” restaurant in Lerwick has been ordered to improve its hygiene after repeatedly failing to make the changes required of it by food safety officials.
Monterey Jack’s on Commercial Street has been served with five hygiene improvement notices setting out strict deadlines for the environmental health department’s recommendations to be complied with.
The recommendations mainly call for structural work to be carried out, such as repairs to worktops and flooring. Failure to meet the terms of a food hygiene notice is an offence under hygiene legislation.
Owner Richard Fergie insisted the required work would be carried out to meet the deadlines but admitted there had been difficulties getting the work done.
He said: “I have tried lots of times to get these things fixed but I couldn’t get the tradesmen in. Things have just taken a bit longer than they should.
“It is so sad that we cannot develop a business in this community.”
A Freedom of Information request by The Shetland Times showed that the restaurant, an American-style diner which opened in March, was served with the notices by Shetland Islands Council’s environmental health department on 6th September.
The notices came on the back of a full inspection on 27th June – which led to an “improvement required” rating – and three revisits up to 24th August.
Lead environmental health officer Dawn Manson said: “The notices were served because little or no progress had been made between the initial inspection and the revisits made. This is in line with the environmental health enforcement policy.”
The issues identified in the notices are:
• Inadequate ventilation in kitchen;
• Worktop at wash-up sink in disrepair;
• Implementation of food safety management system;
• Floor covering in disrepair;
• Damaged worktop needs replaced.
Mr Fergie said he has spent £70,000 on improving the premises so far, owing to problems which existed before he took over.
He said the main reason why some problems still exist is that it has been difficult to find tradesmen to do the work, adding “if this was down south it could be dealt with much, much quicker”.
He pointed out that the notices were not based on faults with his staff and emphasised employees’ compliance with health and safety guidelines.
The environmental health department has made no suggestion that the restaurant poses an immediate risk to public health.
In the past 18 months, eight businesses in Shetland other than Monterey Jack’s have been served with food hygiene notices. All of them carried out the work they were told to do.
Monterey Jack’s is the only business with existing notices against it. The deadline for each piece of work is either 23rd October 2017 or 2nd February 2018.
The October deadline applies to the food safety management system and the repair or replacement of the two worktop areas. The later deadline, meanwhile, applies to the new ventilation system and the repair or replacement of the floor covering.
If the work is not done in time, each breach constitutes an offence under the Food Hygiene (Scotland) Regulations 2006.
Mr Fergie said: “I think that all is being done as quickly as possible to ensure all aspects of the premises are of the standard required of us.”
As well as the findings which led to the issue of the notices, a total of 20 other problems were identified at the full inspection.
While some had been addressed by the time of the revisits, among those which remained were the storage of some condiments at room temperature and the re-use of ice cream tubs for other foods – a practice which poses a potential contamination risk owing to the tubs’ brittle lids.