AN AWARD-WINNING Southampton butcher’s shop is “under investigation” by a public health watchdog.

A report from environmental health chiefs, who inspected Uptons of Bassett, gave it a food hygiene rating of one out of five-stars.

Its smoked bacon has won a Gold Award in the Great Taste Awards for three years in succession.

However, inspectors found that systems to ensure that food is safe to eat and that staff know about food safety needed major improvements.

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They found the ceiling of the raw meat preparation room was discoloured and damaged due to a water leak and that metal shelving in the same area was rusty.

The floor throughout the Winchester Road premises needed cleaning and sawdust was being used to “aid the absorption of blood and fat” to make cleaning easier.

However, inspectors advised the sawdust should be removed and the floor cleaned daily.

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A large amount of shoes, coats, jackets and personal belonging were strew around randomly throughout the food areas.

Hand drying towel was also being stored beneath a raw meat preparation table where it could have been contaminated by spillages.

Meanwhile, management was advised to train or re-train staff on personal hygiene and cross-contamination.

Inspectors from the environmental health partnership of Southampton City Council undertook their visit on December 10.

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The hygienic handling of food including preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage was generally satisfactory.

Despite its poor hygiene rating, the shop which is owned by Simon Broadribb has a five out of five-star rating on review site TripAdvisor.

On its website, Uptons claims to source the best quality breeds, with an emphasis on local, free-range products which ensures it meat “not only tastes outstanding but answers health and animal welfare concerns too”.

Voted Best Butchers Shop in the South West and one of the top five in England, Uptons has a bistro and steak bar which features a “meat-led menu and many prizes winning dishes”.

Commenting on Upton’s rating, Mr Broadribb said: “The main reason we were giving a one-star rating is we don’t have an up to date food management system in place.

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“I hold my hands up, as I did say to our environmental health officer I would do it, and I didn’t, like most butchers, I’m better with my hands and not a great fan of paperwork.

“We have now employed an professional company ‘simply safer’ and we have already made great steps on improvements.

“We are looking to be re-scored in four to six weeks.”

A council spokesperson said: “A revisit to the premises was carried out on January 9 and a further three samples were taken from the premises.

"The results of these samples indicate an improvement in premises hygiene. Southampton City Council’s environmental health service will continue to monitor the hygiene standards of this business until satisfied that improvement is being sustained.