AN upmarket steakhouse charging up to £65 a steak has been handed a one star food hygiene rating after inspectors found flies, expired ingredients and 'dirty' equipment.

The Tomahawk restaurant in Acklam Hall, near Middlesbrough, was told to make "major improvement" after a damning inspection on September 9.

The Northern Echo has obtained a copy of the food hygiene report issued to bosses, which reveals there were a string of failures relating to food, kitchen and the premises.

Read more: Akbar Dynasty near Darlington apologise as hygiene report released

However, the owner of the chain, which also has restaurants across the region including in Darlington and Yarm, has said the problems have been rectified and staff not up to "standards" dismissed.

The Northern Echo: The venue is located inside Acklam Hall Picture: GOOGLEThe venue is located inside Acklam Hall Picture: GOOGLE

In a hygiene report, inspectors raised concerns and said the business must make improvements across all three main categories including hygiene practices, management of food safety, and the cleanliness and condition of facilities and building.

Addressing hygiene practices, they found a string of concerns including dirty equipment, expired ingredients, food stored incorrectly and items not approved for use.

Expired ingredients

In the report, inspectors said that while it was using date codes on foods, they were not being used consistently and old labels had been left on containers along with new ones.

They also found cookie dough had been left beyond its designated use by date and such food had been considered in law as "unsafe" for human consumption.

'Small number of flies'

Inspectors found there had been a "small number of flies" present in the kitchen and that fly spray was used, instead of an alternative method to control the "pests."

It said that as a result of using fly spray, which is not suitable for use in a food preparation room, there was a risk of contamination.

The Northern Echo: The chain also runs another venue in Darlington DL1, picturedThe chain also runs another venue in Darlington DL1, pictured

Further 'risks of contamination'

Raising concerns over how food was being kept, inspectors said open foods were found stored directly under blue tac on the wall, which could pose a risk.

Meanwhile, the room where raw food is prepared was being used as storage for non-food items including items of personal clothing and fly spray.

The report said foil containers were being used as food scoops, despite not being suitable for use as food equipment.

Raising further issues over contamination, it said cloths and sponges used for wiping food contact surfaces and equipment were stored in direct contact with a sink plunger.

Pots and pans ready to be used were stored on work benches behind open waste bins, while ready to use utensils were stored close to the washbasin and towel dispenser.

Dozens of items or areas were found to be 'dirty'

The inspection report went on to list dozens of items or areas that were considered dirty, including light switches, windows and windowsills, shelves, and door seals of freezers and fridges.

It also said ready to use utensils, plastic food containers, surfaces of the bowl mixer, weighing scales, inner and outer surfaces of the hot holding unit and inner and outer surfaces of the ice machine were found in dirty conditions.

What inspectors told Tomahawk - in full

Summing up the inspection, inspectors told the restaurant: "You have not implemented control measures to ensure food safety, as indicated by the risks identified.

"Although you have some documented food safety management procedures, at the time of the visit some of the control measures specified were not being implemented.

"The following items were noted; During the visit it was reported that the raw food preparation took place in the small room where the vac pack machines are located.

"However, it has since been confirmed that raw foods are also handled and prepared in the main kitchen.

"There appeared to be no designated areas for handling raw and ready to eat foods and this is not specified within your food safety management procedures.

"Based on the volume of raw foods prepared in the kitchen it is important that clear instructions are provided outlining where such foods are to be handled and what control measures are in place to prevent cross contamination.

"Two vac pack machines were on site, one labelled as ‘cooked’ and one labelled as ‘raw’. Both of these vac packs were stored directly adjacent to each other and within the room reported to be used for raw food preparation.

"It has since been confirmed that the vac pack labelled as ‘cooked’ is only used for foods requiring additional cooking.

"However, you have no documentation to confirm what foods are permitted to be used in each, or to outline the control measures required to ensure the safety of foods when using both vac packers.

"Although it stated in your food safety management system that ‘colour coded equipment such as knives, chopping boards and disposable cleaning cloths will be used to reduce risk of cross contamination’ this was not followed in practice.

"The same type of tongs were used for handling raw and ready to eat foods.

"It is stated that ‘We are required to provide evidence that the food we sell is safe to eat by documenting our procedures and keeping records of the checks being undertaken’.

"Despite this, the temperature of high risk foods held within the counter top refrigeration unit overnight unit were not being recorded.

"With reference to allergen controls, your documented procedures state ‘Food items need to be stored correctly to reduce the risk of cross contamination.

"This includes storing allergens on the lower shelves where possible, in separate, clearly labelled sealed containers’.

"These control measures were not followed in practice and allergens were found to be unlabelled, unsecured and stored with other foods."

What Tomahawk has said in response to the rating

Howard Egglestone, who owns Tomahawk, told The Northern Echo that it had immediately rectified the issues raised and had vowed to move on.

Mr Eggleston, who said the venue was now expecting to receive a four-star rating after a further inspection, attributed some of the failures to structural considerations which could not be changed while saying the kitchen was inherited from the previous owner.

He said: “There are things that we can’t address, like you can’t put plastic windows in – there was talk of the windowsills and things like that.

“We’re working with the council on how we address Grade-I listed building issues in a modern kitchen, but it’s been immediately re-done as a four star.”

Mr Eggleston, who said the restaurant was now “back to where it should be” following improvements, said it had dismissed staff who were not up to the Tomahawk “standards" and vowed to rebuild its reputation.

He added: “We're going to try and rebuild from this point.

"We have done everything we can to make sure that we are now running a good operation and we will put it behind us and move on.”

Middlesbrough Council confirmed it had carried out a follow-up visit on Wednesday, but that it would not be appropriate to provide any further comments at this stage.

To view the outcome of the September 9 inspection - click here


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