MORE than 300 food hygiene inspections were missed by BCP Council as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

347 inspections were due to take place during April 1 and July 7 but were not completed.

However, the council confirmed it did carry out 198 remote interventions which involved contacting businesses to discuss their food safety management systems and provide advice and guidance.

It also responded to 104 requests for food safety advice and investigated 224 complaints about food, food businesses and allegations of foodborne illness.

The figures come after a study revealed more than 30 per cent of consumers were reportedly nervous to set foot bank into restaurants due to a three-month backlog of inspections.

Scores on the Doors (SOTD), a platform which publishes food hygiene reports on behalf of local authorities, said it was now more important than ever to instil confidence in food safety and hygiene.

Its study revealed 85 per cent of people believed takeaway services should display their food hygiene rating where it can be easily seen, and 86 per cent thought physical establishments should have their ratings clearly visible on the door.

SOTD have now introduced digital inspections which it claims will help local authorities manage the backlog of inspections.

Inspections are completed by food business operators first by electronically uploading documentation then, using their smartphones, being guided around the premises by an inspector.

The inspector can carry out observations, ask questions and capture markup images for their assessment.

Carol Archibald, of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said: “We are incredibly grateful for our restaurants, cafes, pubs and the many other establishments that continued to feed the nation, but we also need to make sure that they’re compliant with food safety and Covid-19 standards.

“Digital inspections not only ensure this, but also minimise potential contamination and lower our carbon footprint as a government, as we navigate our way through the ‘new normal’.”

Councillor Lewis Allison, portfolio holder for communities at BCP Council, said: “The frequency of food business inspections is set by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and we have been following their instructions throughout lockdown.

“This has seen our Environmental Health Officers contacting businesses to ensure they are complying with legislation. Following the priorities set by the FSA, we’ve also provided detailed advice and guidance.

“Investigations into allegations about poor food hygiene conditions, complaints about food and investigations into foodborne illnesses have continued.

“We are resuming programmed visits from mid-July, in line with FSA instructions. Prioritisation of these visits has been set by FSA for period up to September 30, based on the risk of the business.’’