A business owner has vowed to try and force Epping Forest District Council into a climbdown after it gave one of his cafes a zero rating for hygiene.

The Loughton branch of Belgique failed an inspection on April 14, prompting an investigation into the chain, which has branches in Epping, Theydon Bois, two in Wooodford Green and Chingford.

The district council has refused to reveal why the cafe in Loughtin failed the inspection.
But owner Igor Bekaert said inspectors found staff had not been trained to properly open and clean a meat slicer.

He also said a dishwasher was running at two degrees less than required and staff were not monitoring the temperature of a fridge properly.

Mr Bekaert added: “People read these stories and immediately think it’s about bad food but it is not.

“Everything they did in Loughton was completely correct but they take it to the letter of the law.”

“We have now complied with all of the improvement requests. We had complied within 48 hours.”

Mr Bekaert claims revenue is down 20 per cent this week, compared to the same period last year, following the publicity surrounding the failed inspection.

He added that staff hours had been cut as a result.

Environmental health officers carried out the inspections after being alerted by a whistleblower, Mr Bekart said.

A council spokesman said: “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.”

Belgique cafes in Epping, Theydon Bois, Chingford, Woodford Green and Wanstead are all rated five out of five by the Food Standards Agency.

Mr Bekaert said the Epping premises was inspected yesterday and passed.

He expects the investigations to be completed by June 30.