TWELVE food businesses in Newquay scored just one out of five in the latest round of food hygiene inspections, it has emerged.
Cornwall Council officers visited the premises between September 2012 and November last year on behalf of the national Food Standards Agency (FSA).
A score of one means 'major improvement necessary', although it is no reflection of the quality of food or service.
The dozen are: Spar Stores on Tower Road; Smuggler's Rest guest house on Seymour Avenue; Jon Buoy's fish and chips on Beachfield Avenue; The Farmer's Arms pub in St Columb Minor; The Escape Hotel on Mount Wise; Vicki's at Newquay Kitchen, on South Quay Hill; Tai Sing Chinese restaurant on Station Approach; The Bar at the Royal British Legion; Chy An Mor, on Beach Road; Mom's Pasties, on Gover Lane; Snack Shack, on East Street; and Newquay Rowing Club.
Many of the business owners told the Cornish Guardian they were marked down for maintenance and paperwork, which they felt were not related to food hygiene. Some have requested re-inspections.
Paul Wills, owner of Jon Buoys, said: "One out of five isn't good but if it was that bad you'd expect to be closed down. There was nothing at all that said we were dirty or unhygienic. It's nothing that can't be put right with a lick of paint and a bit of paperwork."
The co-owner of Smuggler's Rest, who did not wish to be named, said the inspection had taken place the day after she returned from visiting a seriously ill family member in London.
She said the guest house had been closed for decorating at the time, adding: "The kitchen should have been tidier and cleaner but there were personal circumstances here."
Vicki Freed, of Vicki's, said the inspector had visited the day after their boiler had blown up.
"It caused mayhem and electrical failure and this wasn't explained by a new member of staff," she said. "We were given an apology by the head of department [at Cornwall Council] for our low score who assured me we will be rescored in March."
Stephen Plummer, committee member at the Royal British Legion, said the kitchen had been gutted and refurbished since the inspection last February. "Our kitchen reopened in September last year," he said. "Between then and now there have been no complaints."
A manager at Spar said: "It [the score] was a bit unjustified. We were in the middle of a shop fit."
Meanwhile, The Escape Hotel said its Thai restaurant had since closed, and management at The Farmer's Arms said the pub was now shut until further notice as the landlady had left.
An employee at Chy Bar, where Chy An Mor was based, said the restaurant had changed name and was re-inspected last summer following an inspection in March.
A manager at Newquay Rowing Club said he had not been in post at the time of the inspection, in September 2012, and could not comment. Snack Shack, Tai Sing and Mom's Pasties could not be contacted.
A spokeswoman for the FSA said there were no excuses for poor scores: "The FSA does not consider criticism from low-rated food businesses to be an indication that the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme isn't working. In fact, that is the very purpose of the scheme – to bring hygiene standards into the open so that those businesses that aren't up to scratch can no longer hide behind the kitchen doors."