When the German Market comes to town it’s time for festive celebration but it also means that the potential for new food hygiene violations is sky high.
Not only do those sausages, burgers and donuts need to be cooked properly but the surroundings that the foods are cooked in, must be up to scratch - particularly in lieu of proper kitchen facilities.
In a report published recently, officers inspected the Birmingham German market on Thursday November 17 and issued two stalls with ‘fail notices’.
Out of the total of 40 food stalls, 26 passed the food inspection and 12 stalls required minor improvements.
The stalls issued failed notices were Hot Chestnuts in Victoria Square and Original Frankfurter Company - on New Street.
Inspectors judge three major categories:
Hygienic handling of food including preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storageHow hygienically the food is handled – how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored.
Cleanliness and condition of facilities and building (including having appropriate layout, ventilation, hand washing facilities and pest control) to enable good food hygiene
Management of food safety - system or checks in place to ensure that food sold or served is safe to eat, evidence that staff know about food safety, and the food safety officer has confidence that standards will be maintained in future.
Hot Chestnuts were penalised for a “lack of hot water or hand soap, dirty equipment and insufficient pest proofing to the stall.”
Hot Chestnuts worker Andy Hayes told The Birmingham Mail: “ We think that the city council were completely wrong in their decision to award us with a fail notice.
“They had an issue with the fact we boiled water in an anti bacterial plastic bowl in a self contained hygiene unit rather than had a sink with running hot water. But this is the system that I’ve used for many years as a mass caterer.
"We had to go out and pay £250 for a stainless steel sink when we know they are not anti bacterial.
“ I also do not agree with the dirty equipment fail. We clean our equipment every year and we only start cleaning it again when the machine is warmed up. And we hadn’t turned it on yet on inspection morning as we were waiting for the inspector.
"The pest proofing issue was a small hole in the stall which could attract mice- we filled the hole with wood so I agree that was a problem. But the other two marked faults were just unnecessary.”
The Birmingham Mail witnessed a council inspector issue the fail notice to Original Frankfurter Company stall on New Street on November 17 at 11am - an hour after the market officially opened.
As well as the stated council report findings of lack of hot water, there was also concern that the stall staff allow customers to help themselves to various toppings for their hotdog - including jalapenos and gherkins from compartments with no coverage.
Elena Ciuca, a worker from Original Frankfurter Company said: “The inspector said there was a danger of cross contamination from the public.
“She wanted us to get a glass cover but settled on us using some foil to partially cover each topping and still allow customers to serve themselves.”
The main issue was the stall unplugged sink -which meant no hot water
" Everything was sorted out within half an hour. The inspector just told me to go to Maplin on Temple Street, to get a longer cable so it could reach the socket.
"When she returned half an hour later she was satisfied with us using foil to partially cover the toppings”
Birmingham City Council’s operations manager for food safety, regulation and enforcement, Nick Lowe, said: “Forty inspections were carried out on the first morning that the Frankfurt Market was open, so the two stalls issued with a fail were operating for a very short period prior to our action.
"Both completed the work required later that day and were allowed to open again.
"Those stalls selling alcohol were when tested by secret inspectors were found to be compliant in all aspects relating to avoiding under-aged sales and were knowledgeable in this matter."
The Birmingham Craft Market in Centenary Square, also underwent their own inspection on their opening morning Saturday November 18 - none of the 21 food stalls were issued with fail notices.