A Tyneside food store is one of a handful of outlets in the region to be awarded top honours in a new food safety scheme.
Dicksons traditional pork butchers, in Clayton Street, Newcastle, has won a five-star Excellence rating in the city council's Scores on the Doors programme in which premises that serve food for immediate consumption are rated on their hygiene standards, the structure of the building and staff training.
A city council spokesperson said that of 1,311 premises inspected in Newcastle since January, when the scheme started, just 155 have been given the five-star rating - and of those only four are butchers.
Shop manager Michael Bodley, supervisor Mary Johnson and their staff were delighted at the award, and Mary said it was testament to Dickson's rigorous training programme.
Mary said: "The inspector checked our shop from top to bottom - the storage areas, fridges, temperatures, cleanliness and knowledge of staff.
"There is no doubt that our in-house training won us this Excellence rating. Hygiene and health and safety are drummed into us.
"Supervisors and managers have to pass an NVQ in hygiene and health and safety while our counter staff go through a hygiene course at our South Shields factory and have regular refresher programmes.
"The programme is thorough and makes sure we know the dangers in handling food. We are all dedicated 100 per cent to health and hygiene."
Retail director Christine Dickson said: "We always believed we were in the Premiership of food retailers and to be put in the top 12% is marvellous. The 155 figure includes all national as well as local retailers.
"The award proves that ongoing staff training really does pay dividends."
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