Just Eat to ban takeaways given rating of zero for hygiene

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Food ordering app Just Eat is to remove all restaurants with a hygiene rating of zero from their platform.

Any food outlet attempting to join Just Eat will also have to be rated at least “generally satisfactory” for hygiene.

It comes after a BBC investigation last year found half of outlets rated as zero by the Food Standards Agency in Manchester, Bristol, and London appeared on the app.

Just Eat said restaurants rated zero would be removed by 1 May.

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland a hygiene rating of zero means “urgent improvement is required”.

In October, the BBC found that one takeaway with a zero rating, which was featured on the food ordering platform, had mouse droppings on washing up gloves and dead mice in a pool of grease in the kitchen.

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Waltham Forest Council

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Environmental Health took this picture of dead mice at a takeaway in Walthamstow, east London which features on Just Eat

Just Eat now says it will be investing £1m to raise food hygiene and safety standards, and will help any restaurant on its platform with a rating of zero, one or two to improve.

But outlets which fail to improve upon their zero rating will be kicked off the platform until they change.

How do food hygiene ratings work?

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Local authorities are responsible for inspecting restaurants and takeaways.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland outlets are given a food hygiene rating ranging from zero, for “in need of urgent improvement”, to five, for “food hygiene is very good”.

In Scotland there are just three ratings – Pass, Improvement Required and Exempt Premises (which are given to premises such as newsagents or chemists that are checked but are not predominantly food businesses).

Just Eat will also offer help to those who need improvement in Scotland.

Restaurants in Wales and Northern Ireland must display their rating prominently.

In England, many outlets choose to do so, particularly if it shows a high score for hygiene, but it is not mandatory.

The food ordering app, which works with more than 30,000 restaurants, said it would fund a one-to-one visit from an expert food safety practitioner, help to draw up an action plan, and offer guidance on how to request a re-inspection.

When asked by the BBC whether outlets given a rating of one, for major improvement necessary, or two, for some improvement necessary, would remain on the platform, a spokeswoman for Just Eat said there was “no deadline” for improvement for such restaurants.

But the company said it would be monitoring whether any of its restaurants fell below a rating of 3 so it could step in and offer help.

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Media captionAn investigation by the BBC last year found Just Eat were listing outlets rated zero by the FSA

Just Eat announced in December that it would start to include the official FSA food hygiene rating of each restaurant more prominently on its website and app – something it is now doing in Northern Ireland.

Until it is rolled out across the UK, most users must leave the app and manually type in the name or postcode of the restaurant into the FSA website to find its rating.

Heather Hancock, chairman of the Food Standards Agency, welcomed Just Eat’s investment.

She said: “The company influences thousands of food businesses and reaches millions of customers.

“Quite rightly, Just Eat is making clear that food safety and hygiene must be a top priority for all their partner businesses.”