How clean are St Albans restaurants?

Murgano's restaurant

Murgano's restaurant - Credit: Archant

Only two restaurants in the district have the lowest possible food hygiene rating - zero - with the vast majority hitting top scores.

The bulk of more than 1,000 eateries can boast achieving a Food Standards Agency rating four or five out of five.

This means “good” or “very good” for food handling, building condition and general management of the business.

As a district, St Albans ranks 148 against 390 other areas in the country, and falls in the middle 25 to 75 per cent for food hygiene enforcement.

The two restaurants with a zero rating are Murgano’s on Victoria Street in St Albans and Paya Cuisine on Station Road in Harpenden.

Murgano’s, which serves peri-peri chicken, was last inspected in September last year and has a troubled history - in 2017 its owner was ordered to pay a £20,000 fine for 12 food offences, but this was later decreased to £10,450 on appeal.

However, the restaurant was taken over in April by a new owner, Shafqat Hussain.

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He said: “When we took over the premises we did a full refurbishment and bought all machinery new and changed some of the cooking process too, we have had an extremely good response from the customers and have good reviews too generally.”

Shafqat added: “We believe that our food will talk for itself and as yet we are extremely happy here and also busy.”

Paya is a Chinese takeaway chain with a branch in Harpenden, which was inspected in February this year.

Other Paya restaurants around London and Herts have varying food hygiene ratings.

The Harpenden branch manager did not respond to requests for comment.

St Albans district council (SADC) safety officers inspect the restaurants on behalf of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS).

Deputy head of community services at SADC, Maria Stagg, said: “Food hygiene ratings give information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafés, takeaways, hotels, and other places people eat out, as well as in businesses where consumers can buy food, including supermarkets. They are given a rating following an inspection by one of our food safety officers.”

She said the ratings help people decide where to eat.