The Missing Bean, the popular coffee shop on Turl Street, has received a food hygiene rating calling for “major improvements” from the Food Standards Agency.
The food hygiene rating is a system managed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), a government body which awards ratings out of five for “standards of food hygiene found on the date of inspection”. It indicates that any organisations receiving a rating of two or fewer require improvement: The Missing Bean received one out of five. The inspection took place in November 2013.
When asked by Cherwell, the FSA commented that a rating of one out of five would be awarded for a wide range of problems, from “evidence of widespread pest infestation” to “inadequate temperature control for high-risk foods. ”
However, The Missing Bean stressed that its problems were of a different nature. According to the owner, “the rating of one star is because of the state of the building and doesn’t concern the food side.”
The coffee shop also noted that improvements, such as fixing the walls in the basement, have been made since the inspection, and claims that the FSA, “has said that once [they]have made the changes it can guarantee a four or five star rating.”
The FSA is a non-ministerial government body which was established in 2001 to protect public health. It rates every company selling food in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Student reaction to the FSA’s report on The Missing Bean has been mixed. One frequenter of The Bean expressed disapproval, commenting, “Frankly I’m disturbed – I visit The Bean regularly and I’ve always thought that it was clean and hygienic, but I don’t think I’ll be going as often until it improves.”
Yet despite some concerns, many students were less worried. Unfazed by the FSA’s verdict, one Pembroke third year observed that, “the best coffee comes from digested animal waste… so long as their coffee continues to be delicious, I wouldn’t care if they were cycling it through their own digestive tracts.”
Thomas Cranshaw, a Lincoln medic, expressed his surprise at the rating. He said, “I’ve always found the Bean to be clean and hygienic. I’ve never had any problems with any of my food from there, nor heard of anyone else getting ill… It’d be good if they improved it but this won’t be altering my Beaning habits.”
Oxford has a large number of institutions that score poorly with the FSA. According to its website,132 businesses in Oxford City have a rating of two or less, meaning that over one in ten food vendors have been told to improve hygiene standards.
In the last year, other organisations given a rating of one out of five included Oxford Rendezvous, the Organic Deli, and Freud’s in Jericho.
Arzoo was given a rating of zero, meaning “urgent improvement necessary” in a report from October 2012.