Record-keeping error leads to food agency zero rating

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One of Tunbridge Wells’ most famous hotels, The Spa, has received a zero rating from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for its Chandelier restaurant thanks to administrative errors.

The Food Safety Officer at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council carried out an inspection of the entire kitchen area of the four-star hotel on Langton Road on April 28 before handing out the lowest possible score.

Previously the hotel had achieved top marks with a rating of five out of five. The restaurant has been awarded two rosettes by the AA.

It is understood that the low ranking was due to a problem with the records kept by the hotel.

The Spa’s owner, Anthony Scragg, told the Times: “The inspection was carried out shortly after our new head chef had arrived, and the failings largely relate to a lack of historic record-keeping.”

He stressed: “We are deeply concerned about the rating and understand the implications. However, the poor scores do not relate to poor hygiene.

“We have not experienced any similar problems in the past. This has been a sharp learning curve and we would like to reassure regular and prospective guests that this will never happen again.”

The last time the hotel’s kitchens were inspected, in October 2014, it received a maximum five-star rating.

Technically it would have to wait until October 2016 before the next routine inspection took place, but because of the zero rating the FSO will pay a visit before then.

The Spa Hotel also had an independent review undertaken by an inspector working for Hygiene Solutions, who used to work for the council. He arrived at a rating of 74 per cent.

“There was a fairly significant difference in scores between the independent inspector and the FSO, which has caused some confusion,” said Mr Scragg. “However, we have not left anything to chance and we have taken all the measures recommended by the Food Safety Officer.”

The council inspection team explained: “There are very clear criteria for rating a business using nationally accepted standards. The rating isn’t a guide to food quality.”

Among the 15 outlets in Kent to have received a zero rating there were three other local ones: Pizza and burger bar Sapranos on London Road, Southborough, Kent and Surrey Golf and Country Club in Edenbridge and Forge House, an Italian restaurant in Otford.

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