Published: 13:38, 23 June 2021
| Updated: 15:00, 23 June 2021
A high street restaurant says it has made urgent improvements after scoring the worst food hygiene rating in a Kent district.
Tacos Locos in Canterbury was given just one star out of five following an unannounced council inspection last month.
The authority uncovered a catalogue of issues at the popular Mexican, and raised concerns that a lack of soap meant the “chef was not effectively washing his hands” after handling raw meat.
City council papers show several fridges also had rusty shelves, menus did not feature an up-to-date list of allergens and the kitchen at the St Peter’s Street site was in need of repair.
The restaurant was subsequently slapped with a one-star hygiene rating, becoming the only restaurant in the district currently with a score of less than two.
In their report, the inspectors wrote: “There was no soap at hand-wash basins on arrival in the kitchen or bar located during the visit.
“[This] raises concerns that the chef [is] not effectively washing hands between handling raw and ready-to-eat food.”
Bosses from the city centre business - which has a three-and-a-half star rating on Tripadvisor - were urged to ensure their staff were adequately trained and supervised.
Meanwhile, inspectors recommended that “raw meat must be handled away from ready-to-eat food and equipment to prevent splashes [and] cross contamination”.
They continued: “For example, do not prepare above plates, or on or near the salad display area. Several fridges have rusty shelves that cannot be effectively cleaned and need replacing.
“There are several repairs that need to be carried out in the kitchen – the floor is damaged in [the] cooking area [and] needs repair and there was peeling at the wall junction by the back door.
“You do not have up-to-date records of allergens in your current menu.”
During a follow-up visit to the restaurant towards the end of May, the business was found to have rectified many of the concerns outlined following the initial visit.
The rusty fridge shelves had been replaced and the cook was seen thoroughly heating food.
The inspectors added they were “pleased to see soap at the hand-wash basin, and it being used”.
But they warned: “You still have not implemented keeping daily records of your food safety checks.”
Tacos Locos owner Musa Kivrak stresses his restaurant - which is also a cocktail bar - has made all the changes asked of it last month.
He says he has forked out £150 for the premises to be reinspected sometime in the next 28 days, after which he expects the site to have an improved score.
“We told the inspectors we were not very happy with what they had done,” Mr Kivrak told the Gazette.
“We understand their concerns - it had nothing to do with the food, but it was like structural work.
“The chefs do wash their hands.
“When someone comes and visits, how would they know he doesn’t wash them?
“They’re not standing there and watching them all the time.
“All their concerns have been rectified and we have applied for a reinspection.”
The leasehold for Tacos Locos was put on the market by firm Cradick Retail earlier this year.
The company is advertising the site to prospective businesses for £80,000 per year.
Despite this, Mr Kivrak insists the business will not close.
A city council spokesman said: “Hygiene ratings by our environmental health officers are given on their first visit.
“In this case, noticeable improvements had been made when we visited again and, we understand, more have been made since.
“Businesses can pay for us to make an unannounced visit to rescore their premises but their rating can go up, down or stay the same.”