Poor food hygiene ratings for Randalstown care homes
Two County Antrim care homes have received highly critical food hygiene ratings in recently published rankings.
Ard Na Grainde and Glenkeen in Randalstown received a rating of one, meaning major improvements were needed.
Butter was placed next to raw meat in Glenkeen, while Ard Na Grainde was told to move food out of a room in which its pet dog is kept.
A re-inspection of Glenkeen has since resulted in a rating of four.
Ard Na Grainde said another inspection was set to take place in the near future.
Premises serving food are inspected by environmental health officers from councils across Northern Ireland and are legally obliged to publicly display the rating, with the scores also published online by the FSA.
Rankings are numbered from zero - meaning urgent improvement is needed - to five, the highest rating.
Just 60 out of more than 16,000 eateries across Northern Ireland currently have a rating of one.
None currently have the lowest ranking of zero.
Environmental health teams from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council visited Ard Na Grainde in March and Glenkeen in April.
The assessment of Ard Na Grainde, on Randalstown's Moneyrod Road, reported "areas of non-compliance in relation to provision for E-coli" which the environmental health team stated had already been raised at a previous inspection in August 2016.
Inspectors said it was unclear whether the dishwasher was in good working order, while raw steak mince was stored next to ready-to-eat butter and yoghurt in the fridge.
The report said that it was "apparent that cloths used for cleaning were not disposable", while chopping boards in the main kitchen had deteriorated to such an extent that they could "no longer be thoroughly cleaned/disinfected".
Medication for patients was arranged and sorted on top of a freezer in the main kitchen, with inspectors stating that this activity should be moved away from food preparation and storage areas.
Ard Na Grainde was also asked to urgently review arrangements for its pet dog, which "resides in the utility room just off the kitchen" where food is stored.
The inspection noted: "Foodstuffs such as vegetables and potatoes, a bucket of pre-packed popcorn and tea towels/aprons were stored in this room."
No stock control system was in operation on the premises, with the care home urged to "introduce a system of date coding to ensure stock is rotated and used on a first in/first out basis" and also complete its' own "in-house pest control checks".
At Glenkeen, on Church Road, several issues were raised including areas of non-compliance concerning contamination and E-coli, with raw and ready to eat food stored together in one of the fridges.
Inspectors observed "pound coins set in the ready-to-eat bench" and mayonnaise and butter on the "bottom shelf beside raw meat".
A yoghurt, which was ready to eat, had also been placed in the raw food section, while knives used for both food preparation and eating were mixed together.
The room used for vegetable preparation was assessed as "dirty", with the home urged to thoroughly clean the floor, while the ceiling was damp and mouldy, making the room "not suitable for use".
Both Glenkeen and Ard Na Grainde were warned about the preparation methods for onions, which can be a source of E-coli.
Hutchinson Care Homes, which operates several nursing homes across County Antrim including Glenkeen, said the one rating came as a shock and it was the first time any of their homes had been awarded such a low grade.
Naomi Carey said every procedure had been re-examined.
"We took it very seriously," she said. "We implemented a review, gathered all the staff together and set about re-training them."
A spokeswoman for Ard Na Grainde said the care home had previously been awarded the top rating of five and had not appealed against the rating of one.
All recommendations made after March's inspection had been implemented, she added.