food safety officers have revealed shock figures which show that three-quarters of takeaways subject to checks were putting lives of staff and customers at risk by flouting gas and electricity regulations.
Officials said they believed some businesses were not carrying out essential work because they were struggling in the recession, while others simply did not know what their obligations were.
Regulatory services staff at Barnsley Council said more than 50 takeaways had been checked in the last few weeks, with one premises having its gas supply shut off immediately.
Nine prohibition and improvement notices were also issued during inspections, and officers said they feared worse was to come when they check the rest of the town’s 160 food outlets.
An officer from the council said: “Many more business operators have been forced to carry out improvements on faults which were revealed by our checks.
“Only one in 10 of the premises we visited had records that demonstrated that they had carried out formal maintenance checks and four premises were found to have had gas work carried out by people not registered for such work.”
Officials said other issues found at takeaways included no means of turning the gas off in an emergency, incomplete ventilation flues, loose and damaged pipework, no safe system for lighting gas appliances and no gas safety records.
The officer added: “Many takeaways are in residential areas or have flats above, increasing the potential dangers if gas systems go wrong.
“It is a legal requirement for business operators to maintain their gas kitchen appliances and other kitchen equipment to a safe standard.
“Only Gas Safe registered engineers with the correct training and qualifications for catering equipment and pipework are allowed to work on gas appliances and installations.
“Yet regulatory services health and safety officers have found examples of dangerous conditions in almost three quarters of the businesses visited so far.
“Serious deficiencies in the gas system put people in danger and therefore notices are being served requiring remedial work to be completed.”
Coun Roy Miller, Barnsley Council’s development, environment and culture spokesman, said the council’s findings were not acceptable.
He added: “The key message we aim to give to food business operators are that essential maintenance must not be cut even at this difficult economic time.”