Half of Bermuda’s eateries receive top grade
Nearly half of Bermuda’s eating-out spots have been awarded “A” grades after inspectors checked their food and hygiene practices.
A scoring programme published on the Government’s website lists 203 establishments, with 92 of those achieving the top grade.
The Environmental Health section’s “grades on licences” scheme was introduced last year, with the online publication of rates for restaurants, cafés, supermarkets, bars, bakeries and delicatessens.
It shows the results of food premises’ annual inspections in letter grades — A to D.
After the unannounced visits, the 2018 list shows 86 eateries secured a B and five ranked C. None were marked D but 19 establishments were “approved”, which is understood to be a grade for new premises when they are licensed before a follow-up inspection takes place when the business is open and operating.
One remained blank on the list and a government spokesman said yesterday it was among 27 establishments with grades yet to be confirmed, with these expected to be finalised by the end of the month.
Last year, when only 180 eateries were listed as a phased roll-out of the programme took place, 77 were awarded As and 88 received Bs, with the remainder either Cs, approved, satisfactory or ungraded.
Among those to improve their ranking from a B to an A was fast-food outlet KFC on Queen Street in the City of Hamilton.
Ginene Haslam, its general manager, told how the importance of food safety is instilled in staff through online and hands-on training.
Yesterday, she said the grade improvement was the result of unnecessary equipment being removed from the site.
Ms Haslam added: “It’s good for the public to know where they are eating and that they’re eating somewhere safe. I don’t think it affects us very much because we are very focused on it anyway but it probably inspires some businesses to do better.”
Long-established seafood favourite The Lobster Pot, also in the city, saw its grade fall from a B in 2017 to a C this year after an inspection in March.
Owner Lynn Bardgett said nothing has changed at the restaurant in its 45-year history and claimed her licensing certificate did not explain why the rating slumped.
She added: “They write down what we need to do, the different things that need to be addressed, those things are done.”
Among them, she said, were more regular and thorough deep cleaning and ensuring that food can be stored in a refrigerator below 40F.
Ms Bardgett said the issues were largely “the normal things that we do day in, day out” and continued: “Like everybody dealing with the public, we want to make sure that everything is done correctly.
“Sometimes there are slip-ups but at the end of the night, I make sure that everything is wiped down and cleaned.”
Chris Garland, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce’s restaurant division, told how it was a great achievement for busy Bermudian venues, including spots on Front Street such as The Pickled Onion, to retain top grades.
He said: “The volume of people some of those do ... for them to keep A and B, it’s a testament that something positive is being done. Between visits you can build up a lot of dirt.”
Voicing his support for the list’s publication, he added: “Anything that publicly displays information usually keeps people on their toes. It tells you exactly what you want to know as a consumer and restaurateurs take it in the respect of, be careful what can happen if you don’t get a good grade.”
An explanation accompanying the list online states that it allows people to see how well the island’s food establishments “are maintaining sanitary standards in accordance with the Public Health (Food) Regulations 1950”.
Environmental Health officers score businesses on items such as temperature control of food, personal hygiene practices, protective clothing for staff and vermin control.
A 100-point scale is used and violations result in a deduction, with a greater points tally resulting in a better grade.
Anything below 70 points means a D grade, which would usually mean “urgent action or consideration of closure”.
A Ministry of Health spokesman said: “The list includes all food establishments in Bermuda except those which only sell pre-packed foods as these are very low risk.”
He added: “Bermuda enjoys a good selection of quality foods for sale to the public.
“Ensuring the safety of our food and the highest standards of hygiene in our food establishments is a key priority for the Department of Health.
“In order to enhance consumer confidence in our food establishments and to encourage those establishments to continually improve their hygiene standards, last year the system of displaying grades on licences was introduced. These licences must be displayed at establishments.”
The spokesman said: “In this way potential customers can know before they decide where to eat, what the standard of hygiene was at the last inspection carried out by Environmental Health Officers.
“The Department would encourage everyone to look at the website when deciding where to go. We hope that this in turn will encourage proprietors of establishments to always put hygiene at the top of their priorities.”