Hygiene horrors a recipe for disaster
The Food Inspectors BBC1, 8pm
"EVERY year," says Chris Hollins, "more than one million people get ill because of the food they eat." It's all that's stemming the obesity epidemic.
The problem's predominantly down to hygiene. "You can't have a rabbit where you're preparing food," health inspector Mandy Cartwright told the owner of one Chinese takeaway. And certainly not sitting on your shoulder.
Mandy is known in the trade as 'clean up or close down Cartwright'. When she's finished with food inspecting she's moving on to post-watershed Channel 4.
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Her job is to prevent issues affecting restaurants. "Some of the symptoms are horrifying," reported Hollins, "amnesia, paralysis, diarrhoea." And that's just from sitting next to someone you don't like very much.
Sadly there are those in the trade who will always take risks. "Food business is big business," said Hollins, "and can attract people who cut corners." On the plus-side, if the dead rat's under the sink at least it's not in your meal.
"Dinner can be dangerous," he added. "Ten germs can multiply to a thousand in just six hours." And all at no extra charge.
Hollins is a strange choice for a programme like this. He used to present the sports news on BBC Breakfast and then won Strictly. How that makes him perfect for The Food Inspectors I'm not sure. It's like asking Louis Smith to present How Clean Is Your House?.
Nevertheless, he ploughed on, visiting Linda, a woman who enjoyed her animals. "She's got a horse, a pony, and a cat," we heard, "and she treats them like family." I'm hoping they don't share a hot-tub.
"Mucking out," Hollins inquired, "do you enjoy that?" "Oh yes," enthused Linda. Give her a call if there's some manure needs shifting.
While the stables were spotless, the same couldn't be said for Linda's kitchen. "You can see there's a complete jungle of different flies," noted an inspector. "Dead daddy-long-legs, fruit flies, shield bugs." The good news is that a fruit fly counts as one of your five-a-day.
No wonder then that Linda's daughter Faye had refused to let her little girl eat there. "If I go," she revealed, "I'll take a packed lunch because her kitchen's not clean." It's a ploy worth thinking about if you hate cooking for visitors.
Linda was made to see the light, and Faye now happily eats at her mum's house. That she wears a boiler suit and a gas mask is just a coincidence.
But it's worth remembering the programme's central message – "where there's pets there's poo". Don't keep your stick insect in the bread bin.