Health

BBC canteens used by stars are being criticised for hygiene issues including food being a YEAR out of date, no soap for hand washing and contamination with ‘red slime’

The BBC has been hit by a food hygiene scare after health hazards were discovered in staff canteens, including ‘red slime’ in one of the kitchens.

Legal demands were issued to immediately resolve a number of issues so the cafeterias could continue to serve food and drink to BBC staff and stars including Alex Jones, Tess Daly and Gary Lineker.

Local authorities inspected eateries at the Beeb’s New Broadcasting House in London and Media City in Salford, Manchester.

Now documents released under the Government Information (Public Access) Act reveal a whole series of complaints that are causing dissatisfaction.

In a canteen in Salford, which airs major BBC programmes such as Match of the Day, inspectors found food in the kitchen that had already expired the year before.

Local authorities inspected eateries at the Beeb's New Broadcasting House in London, above, and Media City in Salford, Manchester

Local authorities inspected eateries at the Beeb’s New Broadcasting House in London, above, and Media City in Salford, Manchester

Legal demands were issued to immediately resolve a number of issues so the cafeterias could continue to serve food and drink to BBC staff and stars, including Strictly Come Dancing presenter Tess Daly.

Legal demands were issued to immediately resolve a number of issues so the cafeterias could continue to serve food and drink to BBC staff and stars, including Strictly Come Dancing presenter Tess Daly.

In a canteen in Salford, home to major BBC shows such as Match of the Day, presented by Gary Lineker, inspectors found food in the kitchen that had expired the year before

In a canteen in Salford, home to major BBC shows such as Match of the Day, presented by Gary Lineker, inspectors found food in the kitchen that had expired the year before

In addition, there was no soap at the sinks, which meant that the staff preparing the meals could not wash their hands properly.

The News Cafe canteen at Broadcasting House failed to meet standards for the cleanliness of the sinks and dishwasher, with ‘red gunk on them and in need of a thorough cleaning’.

There were further violations regarding cleaning, as grease had built up over a period of six months and this grease had to be scraped away before work could resume.

Rules had been broken when a grease trap in the main washroom was not working and orders were given to deep clean the shelves in the kitchen.

Food was kept at warm temperatures for longer than allowed by hygiene regulations and kitchen equipment also had to be thoroughly cleaned.

The report also found that there was insufficient space in the freezer to store food and that the kitchen had previously suffered from an infestation of fruit flies, which can transmit unsanitary bacteria.

The two canteens at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, where Strictly Come Dancing is filmed, also had a few minor issues that needed sorting out.

Examples of this include peeling paint that needed to be repaired so that a backsplash could be properly cleaned and a crumbling ceiling in a storage room.

Local authorities are responsible for inspecting businesses and enforcing food hygiene legislation.

If they feel that food hygiene standards are not good enough, they can take action, such as demanding that problems be resolved, but also closing the business or even taking legal action.

Inspections take place at most once every five years, but often more often.

The reports released to MailOnline are from the most recent inspections at all three BBC sites covering 2020 and 2022.

Food from BBC staff canteens has a bad reputation and has been used as material for stars such as Ronnie Corbett, Peter Sellers, Terry Wogan and Les Dawson.

Sellers once said on the Goon show in 1954: ‘Lunch is now being served in the BBC canteen. Doctors are standing by.’

Problems that needed to be fixed were also found in the canteens at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, where Strictly Come Dancing is filmed

Problems that needed to be fixed were also found in the canteens at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, where Strictly Come Dancing is filmed

Legendary BBC World Affairs editor John Simpson also recently joked on X: ‘A meal I recently had at a cheap roadside restaurant in Khartoum was better than the BBC canteen.’

And BBC producer Kevin Core also posted about a tuna sandwich with mayonnaise that was “so bad” that “the guy made it knowing it was quite hard” [and] old. Scandalous.’

Newsreader Rich Preston also lightheartedly claimed that the way the BBC offices were depicted in Scoop, the drama about the Prince Andrew interview, was “complete nonsense” as it showed “a wide and healthy selection of food”.

Author Bethany Black called the cafeteria food “the worst I’ve ever eaten,” adding: “A can of chopped tomatoes with a diced mushroom in it is not Bolognese sauce, and adding paprika to it doesn’t make it chili.”

BBC director Rob Jones posted a photo of a bowl of bright red ‘soup’ that was served to him, calling the soup ‘appalling’.

Radio 4 newsreader Chris Berrow said last year: ‘Given that National Avocado Day has received such a lot of attention on the BBC Canteen, I’m devastated to see that once again this year there will be not a single dish on the menu that contains avocado.’

Allie Hodgkins-Brown, a duty editor at BBC News, complained that it cost £1.50 to spread butter and Marmite on two slices of bread she had brought with her.

While the BBC was asked for food hygiene reports on its canteens, it refused to make them public. Instead, MailOnline obtained them from local authorities for each BBC office location.

In a canteen in Salford, home to major BBC shows such as Match of the Day, inspectors found food in the kitchen that had expired the year before

In a canteen in Salford, home to major BBC shows such as Match of the Day, inspectors found food in the kitchen that had expired the year before

Birmingham City Council said it could not provide an inspection report for the BBC’s West Midlands Mailbox site because it had been lost.

A BBC spokesman said all issues raised by inspectors had been resolved, adding: ‘[The canteens] have achieved the highest 5-star food hygiene rating. They are routinely inspected and any issues raised are addressed promptly.’

This comes after viewers of the BBC cookery programme Saturday Kitchen were shocked by the hygiene regulations for food last month.

Chef Tong Chee Hwee was invited to serve the ‘best Peking duck in town’.

He was seen using a tea towel to dry a raw duck after dousing it with water, before placing the ‘infected’ towel on a work surface – and later using it to dry his hands.

The BBC had previously suffered from mice in the New Broadcasting House.

The building’s managers sent an email to all employees telling them to expect baited traps throughout the newsrooms.

The memo said: ‘We cannot be expected to tolerate this just because we are in the centre of London.’

The problem was attributed to the size of the holes made in the cable ducts, and staff were told that these holes would be tightened.

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