The Government has defended its food hygiene inspectors after a top hotel branded them "overzealous" following a zero-star rating.
Chateau Le Chaire was handed the lowest possible rating – which means a business has shown a “general failure to comply with the Jersey Food Law” and requires “major” work to rectify issues – after an inspection by the EatSafe team in June.
However, when Express approached the hotel, whose restaurant has been closed for lunch and dinner since May while "essential refurbishment works" are completed on its main kitchen, Director Mark Collins criticised how the inspection was handled.
"The Eat Safe team made a visit in June after work had commenced in the main kitchen and, in the absence of any management to discuss the works taking place, they issued the rating based on the current condition at that time whilst we were still transitioning to the second kitchen," he said.
"They questioned the only member of kitchen staff on duty at the time, a junior staff member, who had only recently joined the team, who did not have the answers they were looking for. Unfortunately, they also did not look at our second kitchen."
He added that Chateau La Chaire invited the EatSafe team to inspect the second kitchen before their report was published, but "to date they have not done so."
Responding Mr Collins' claims that the team had acted in an "overzealous manner" this morning, Group Director of Regulation, Kelly Whitehead, who has oversight of the EatSafe team's operations, commented: "Our officers investigate all cases with rigour, professionalism and make evidence-based assessments on how a business manages their food hygiene and safety standards."
She said that she was unable to "make specific comments on the details of this case whilst we are working actively with this business", but maintained: "In all cases, our objective in Regulation is to safeguard the public and we will continue to do that proportionately, fairly and consistently."
Pictured: Director of Regulation Kelly Whitehead said the EatSafe team were "rigorous" in their work and always endeavoured to act "proportionately, fairly and consistently."
Any business can request another visit after three months for a reassessment of their rating. Express understands that Chateau La Chaire is due to be revisited in the near future.
Approximately one half (542) of island food businesses have received a five-star 'Eat Safe' rating, whilst 19 businesses have received a rating of two or zero.
Environmental Health officials say the ratings are a result of a lengthy process and not a one-off inspection, with businesses given the opportunity to address any issues before a rating is published.
Pictured: The establishments with a zero rating. (EatSafe/Gov.je)
Officials say the EatSafe ratings are a preventative measure, and must legally be displayed publicly - standards inspected include handling and storage of food, how food is prepared, cleanliness of facilities, and how food safety is managed.
Businesses are also inspected on their record-keeping regarding the dates of food deliveries and temperatures, as well as their policies.
Food audit inspections occur anywhere between every six months to three years but are dependent on each business' level of risk and compliance.
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