Forum Topic

Wahaca and our dysfunctional hygiene inspection system

The closure of Wahaca recently after an outbreak of sickness among staff and customers at their restaurants brought to mind a conversation I had a while back with a local restaurant owner.His family owned business had been inspected by H&F staff and been given a mediocre rating. There was no problem with hygiene per se but their record keeping was found to be inadequate and therefore they received a low score. This man is in the kitchen of his restaurant every night of the week and is obsessive about cleanliness. His staff are mainly relations and share his desire to see the restaurant do well.Although he speaks English well it is his second language he finds the form filling very onerous and really struggles to do what is required.At Wahaca they have a high turnover of staff who are all employees of company based somewhere else in the country. People come and go on a regular basis and, although they are probably professional enough in the main, they don't have the emotional commitment to the restaurant that you would see in a family owned business. They almost certainly have at least one employee in the firm whose sole responsibility is to ensure that the restaurant's paper work is uptodate for inspections. So naturally they sail through every time with 5 stars.Whether the sickness that led to the closure of Wahaca was bad luck or bad management, it seems to me that the current system of inspections doesn't actually do that much to protect customers from poor hygiene at restaurants. What it is tending to do is give a big and unfair advantage to chain restaurants over family owned independent ones. The latter are already under severe pressure in the local area and if we lose more we risk becoming a characterless chain town with no interesting places to eat.

Andy Jones ‚óŹ 2774d0 Comments