A cafe chain could face legal action after it emerged three of its cafes are under investigation by council inspectors.
Belgique in High Road, Loughton, is currently rated one out of five for food hygiene by the Food Standards Agency and branches in Epping and Theydon Bois are now also subject to regular visits from environmental health officers.
Epping Forest District Council carried out the inspections but has not given the reasons for the poor rating.
A council spokesperson said: "We are working with the owner and managers to address a number of concerns.
“We would like to say more but we are constrained in the amount of detail we can give at the moment as we would not like to prejudice any potential legal action in the future.”
A further six Belgique cafes owned by Igor Bekaertin in Wanstead, Woodford Green and Chingford as well as the Epping and Theydon Bois branches are all rated five out of five by the agency.