Published: 06:00, 21 February 2020
A Michelin-accredited gastropub recognised as one of the best in the country has turned things around after being handed a one-star food hygiene rating.
The Compasses Inn, in Crundale, was found to have a mouldy ice machine following a damning inspection by health officials.
Surveyors also warned of the dangers of keeping food beyond its shelf life, and found a lack of safety reports.
As a result, the Shepherd Neame-run venue - which was last month named sixth-best gastropub in the UK at the prestigious Estrella Damm awards - was slapped with a low hygiene rating and ordered to immediately improve its status.
Following the visit in December, officials returned last week to find heightened standards and awarded the Sole Street eatery with a much-improved five-star rating.
Husband-and-wife team Rob and Donna Tyler have been running the country pub for seven years - helping it earn Michelin Bib Gourmand status and two AA Rosettes.
They use the trendy “sous vide” technique - using a vacuum packer to remove air from a package of food - to prepare some menu items.
But inspectors found a lack of documents detailing the safety of the procedure.
A Food Standards Agency official said in their report: “As discussed, vacuum packing, sous vide and cooking foods less than thoroughly cooked - such as chicken liver parfait - carries considerable food safety risks.
“You must provide a written Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point to this department for consideration.
“The vacuum packing machine in the kitchen must only be used for raw foods.”
The report also says immediate action is needed to “ensure a maximum shelf life of three days is applied to prepared foods”, and 10 days for fresh vacuumpacked food.
Owners were ordered to thoroughly disinfect a mouldy ice machine, ensure staff undertook allergy training, and provide evidence kitchen workers had food hygiene qualifications.
A Shepherd Neame spokesman said: “In December, some necessary documentation recording use of their sous vide machines was found to be incomplete. While no customer was put at risk, the licensees recognise the information is vital to ensure customer safety and the records were immediately completed.
"Unfortunately, this resulted in a food hygiene rating of one."
“The licensees requested another assessment and their long-standing rating of five has now been restored.”