TWO SEPARATE Bolton SPAR stores say they have taken action after inspectors awarded them just two stars out of five for hygiene.

According to the Food Standards Agency and Bolton Council, the SPAR stores on Gibraltar Rock, Deane Road and on Campbell Street, Farnworth were both in need of improvement at the time of their last inspections, with a two-star rating being below generally satisfactory standards.

The FSA first awarded the ratings in 2019 and says that the information remains correct as of September 5 2021, however the management at both branches, which operate as independent retailers and as such are not part of the same structure, say that they have taken the criticism on board, have made improvements and are confident of receiving a significantly higher rating when inspections are conducted again.

The management of SPAR Gibraltar Rock said: "Hygiene standards and offering our customers a high quality store experience are our top priorities.

"We don’t offer a food preparation service in-store and anything highlighted in the inspection was acted upon and rectified immediately.

"We welcome a reassessment in the near future."

When carrying out inspections, the Food Standards Agency in partnership with local councils considers food hygiene and safety, structural compliance and confidence in management.

In the Gibraltar Rock SPAR store's case, food hygiene and safety were deemed to be "poor", though structural compliance was "fair" and confidence in management judged to be "good."

According to the FSA, "poor" indicates major non-compliance with statutory obligations and that more effort is required to prevent fall in standards.

Meanwhile the store on Campbell Street, Farnworth was judged to have maintained "good" food hygiene and safety but "poor structural compliance, while the FSA said it had only "some" confidence in management at the time.

Structural compliance refers to the structure of the establishment including cleanliness, layout, condition of the building, lighting, ventilation and facilities.

The management of the SPAR Campbell Street store said: "We take hygiene standards extremely seriously and were naturally disappointed with the rating as we have excellent customer satisfaction from our in-store experience.

"We have now requested a visit to be reassessed and look forward to achieving an improved score."