Pizza shop went from two to one star food hygiene rating - but won't be taken off Just Eat

A Darlington pizza shop which failed to clean up its act has been slammed with a single-star food hygiene rating but will remain on Just Eat despite inspector's safety concerns.

Veno's Pizzeria has hundreds of reviews on food delivery service website Just Eat - receiving an overall customer score of 4.5 out of 6. But having been warned by health inspectors in 2020 when it was given a two-star food hygiene rating, the Yarm Road takeaway has failed to make the necessary changes - and has instead now been re-rated a one star meaning it requires 'major improvement'.

The inspector shared that he was "very concerned" that some of the practices, alongside the physical condition of the Darlington takeaway, indicate a "lack of management controls over food operations" in the business. But while any restaurant which receives a zero from food hygiene inspectors is removed from Just Eat's site, those which receive one or two stars are allowed to continue training in a bid to help them improve.

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During the visit to Veno's in January, an inspector found dirty wiping cloths, no soap or hygienic drying facilities at the wash hand basin and issues with the refrigerator air temperature - which means sauces stored in the fridge were high risk and would "support the growth of food poisoning bacteria". According to the report, the metal floor covering in the rear walk-in storage cupboard was dirty and structural issues were highlighted such as missing and cracked tiles, while wooden surfaces in the front of shop which is "inappropriate for use with high-risk foods".

The inspector wrote: "I am very concerned that some of the practices seen during my inspection, together with the physical condition of the premises, indicate a lack of management controls over food operations in your business. There has been no improvement in the operation of this business in the last two years indeed the same contraventions have been identified above that were identified previously, and additional ones have been added.

Pizza shop went from two to one star food hygiene rating - but won't be taken off Just Eat

"This is not acceptable and as discussed improvements must be carried out as a priority, and controls must be put in place to ensure there is no risk to public safety. You are strongly advised to seek the assistance of a food safety consultant."

The eatery had previously been given a two-star rating but this was reduced following the most recent inspection. Veno's has been contacted for comment but has not responded at the time of publishing.

Just Eat says it believes it is more responsible to give venues the support they need to improve. The online food ordering company has invested more than £1 million in a bespoke improvement programme for restaurants with a food hygiene rating of below 3 to help raise the standards across the whole sector.

As part of this, every 1 and 2 star rated restaurant listed on our platform can access bespoke support from NSF, the leading global food safety consultants, with a dedicated action plan for improvement. Since 2019, 80% of all 1 or 2 rated partners have improved their scores.

A spokesperson for the company said: “We take food safety extremely seriously, and have led the way in driving up standards across the sector. We have robust processes in place to ensure compliance with our policies and the vast majority of restaurants we work with have a Food Hygiene Rating of three or above.

"We believe we have a huge role to play in driving up standards in the sector as a whole, which is why we have invested more than £1 million in a bespoke improvement programme for restaurants with a food hygiene rating of below three. Should any restaurant partner’s rating drop below three stars, our systems automatically flag this to our teams so we can offer them the support, fully funded by us, to make the necessary improvements to get back up to that standard."

It is not known if Veno's received food safety support after initially receiving the two star rating in 2020.