The Olive Tree, York: Mould and slime discovered at Yorkshire restaurant in damning hygiene inspection

Full details of a report that showed a risk of cross-contamination and mould growing at a York restaurant have been released.

The Olive Tree, on Tower Street, York, received a damning report from the Food Standards Agency in February, but the full details have now been sent to the Local Democracy Reporting Service. The report shows there were multiple risks of cross-contamination, evidence of mould growing in the restaurant and that staff were not trained sufficiently in food safety.

“Bloody packs of raw lamb wrapped in cling film were stored next to stilton cheese in the fridge,” the inspector wrote. “This poses a risk of cross-contamination. Food should be kept covered and cooked/ready to eat foods should be stored away from and above raw foods.”

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The inspector also noted that multiple parts of the restaurant required immediate cleaning, including a mouldy door handle to the walk-in chiller. Other surfaces were covered in grease and the interior of the dishwasher was covered in red slime. It was given a hygiene rating of one out of five by the inspectors.

Olive Tree. Pic: Adam Laver/LDRSOlive Tree. Pic: Adam Laver/LDRS
Olive Tree. Pic: Adam Laver/LDRS

Staff need to be retrained in food safety and hygiene, according to the inspector, in particular on how to wash hands effectively and to use antibacterial soap not washing up liquid for hand washing. The chef was observed washing hands in the equipment sink posing a risk of cross-contamination.

Another risk of cross-contamination was that dirty cloths were found on the food surfaces, leading the inspector to tell staff to remove all outdoor clothing from the kitchen.

The inspector also noted: “I note from our records that you have not registered as the proprietor of the premises. It is an offence to fail to notify this department when you become the operator of a food business.”

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A spokesperson for the restaurant said: “Regrettably, our annual food and hygiene inspection, expected to occur in December 2023, took place amidst significant refurbishment and renovation work across the entire premises. At the time of inspection, which occurred during ongoing plastering work in the kitchen and bathrooms, the environment was understandably chaotic.

“Compounding the situation, the inspector arrived at 2pm when none of the permanent staff were present to provide context or explanation for the ongoing works. Had they been available, we could have arranged a more suitable time for the inspection post-completion of the renovations.

“Despite these challenges, we appreciate the constructive feedback provided by the inspector. The identified areas for improvement were already part of our refurbishment plans for the year, and we intend to extend an invitation for a follow-up inspection once the current works are finished.

“This visit has helped our management team ensure that our refurbishment efforts address all relevant concerns. At the Olive Tree York, we are dedicated to offering fresh food in a clean environment to both our loyal patrons and new visitors.

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“We eagerly invite the people of York to experience our newly refurbished establishment later this year. In anticipation of our relaunch, we are planning an exciting event and preparing to introduce a new Mediterranean menu to the public shortly.”

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