EIGHT Herefordshire food outlets have been issued with official notices to improve their hygiene and food safety.

In the last 18 months the eight have all been given a one-star rating, the next to lowest on the zero to five scale used by the Food Standards agency.

The eight are: Dom’s Bike Stop in Leominster; Sitara, The Snack Bar and The Royal Oak Hotel in Ledbury; Pronto’s in Ross-on-Wye; Village Chips in Moreton on Lugg; Nine & Nine and The Grapes in Hereford..

Businesses where food is supplied, sold or consumed must be inspected at intervals ranging from six months to two years and their hygiene standards across three categories - hygienic food handling, cleanliness and condition of facilities and building, and the management of food safety - are rated.

For most of the eight businesses, the major failing has come in the third category, with staff failing to ensure that food was safe to eat or demonstrate evidence that they know about food safety.

Often a big factor for diners when choosing where to eat, the ‘scores on the doors’ hygiene ratings are now available on dedicated smartphone apps.

But the system is not without its flaws, according to the food businesses.

Ian Morgan, of The Grapes in Hereford, says he and partner David Rigby have been saddled with the previous owner’s rating, which no longer reflects the pub’s standards.

“Unfortunately the inspector arrived on September 28, just days before we signed and took over as new owners on October 1.

“The place was in quite a mess and important paperwork and records were not available at the time, which resulted in the low rating.

“We’ve been working really hard over the last couple of months to bring the place up to standard and we have just finished a complete refit of the pub.”

Mr Morgan added: “We have requested a repeat inspection which is due to take place in about four weeks time.”

And some of the other businesses contacted said that the issues pointed out by inspectors had been rectified, with re-inspections anticipated soon.

Staff at Moreton on Lugg’s Village Chips said that the business owner is out of the country and declined to comment when contacted.

Ledbury’s Sitara restaurant did not respond to requests for comment.