ALMOST 250 businesses that handle food across the Bournemouth conurbation are failing to meet hygiene standards, new data has revealed.

All food businesses are given a hygiene rating from zero to five, with a rating of at least three indicating they are broadly compliant with hygiene law.

There are 1,942 such establishments in Bournemouth, according to the latest data from the Food Hygiene Standards Agency, which includes restaurants, shops and takeaways as well as food manufacturers and distributors.

Of these, 130 – some seven per cent – had a hygiene rating of two or below as of 2018-19, meaning improvements are necessary.

In Poole 67 out of 1,217 food businesses were rated two or below, while 46 of Christchurch’s 477 food establishments also failed to score a three.

BCP Council director of communities Kelly Ansell said: “The majority of food businesses across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole achieve the maximum food hygiene rating of five, and most achieve a score of three or above, meaning they legally comply with hygiene laws.

“Our environmental health officers visit all food businesses to ensure that they sell food that is safe to eat.

“On the rare occasions where food manufacture, storage or handling is found to be substandard, we take immediate steps to bring about improvements which, exceptionally, may result in closure or prosecution of the food business.

“We have now committed extra resources to bring about hygiene improvements to the small proportion of food businesses who fall below a score a three.”

Maria Jennings, director of regulatory compliance of the Food Standards Agency, said: “Local authorities are there to ensure that food businesses produce food that is safe and what it says it is.

“One of the FSA’s roles is to have oversight and assurance about their performance. It is good to see an increase in the total percentage of planned hygiene interventions that local authorities are carrying out,” she added