A BACKLOG of food premises inspections in Ceredigion was dealt with by outside contractors but more resources are needed to ensure the service can keep up.

Ceredigion County Council has a statutory duty to inspect and score businesses on food hygiene and food standards, ensuring they meet the obligations of the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

An update on the food hygiene and standards service was brought to a special healthier communities overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday, September 6.

Commercial services manager Carwen Evans told members that following an FSA inspection in 2015, 29 recommendations for improvements had been made, 14 of which have been implemented.

A further 12 had made good progress with three still outstanding.

The FSA had been back to see the progress taken in July and had made a positive report on what had taken place, added Mrs Evans.

A need for more staff was identified and the service had used external funding to employ contractors in order to reduce a backlog of premises needing inspecting last year.

Mrs Evans said this money came from prosecutions involving “smokies” in Ceredigion – illegally butchered sheep where the skin of the animal is left on and blow-torched, and the spine is not removed, in contravention of UK and EU law – but there was no further money available for next year.

In 2018/19 premises requiring the most intervention number nine while those needing the least total 467. The majority of premises are category c – needing inspection every 18 months – totalling a number of 507.

A high number of new business were started over the summer the committee heard and a number were still waiting for their review.

All businesses dealing with food are required to display a hygiene rating or ‘score on the door’ which customers can check before using an establishment. There are fixed penalty fines for not displaying the ratings correctly.

Councillors voted in favour of recommending that a full-time, qualified person be employed to work across the department.

Committee chairman Cllr Alun Lloyd Jones said that he had received complaints about how some contractors had dealt with customers.

“It’s very important that this is done properly, we can’t just put a sticking plaster here and there,” he added.

While a number of councillors emphasised the importance of food hygiene, referring to serious cases in other areas of Wales, Cllr Odwyn Davies asked “are we being too fussy with food?”

“People can’t handle any dirt anymore. We’re going to spoil everything with all these regulations that are going overboard,” he said.

The increase in rat and mouse problems was highlighted by Cllr Mark Strong and it was agreed that Welsh Water be contacted about its role in preventing the issues.