HYGIENE standards at five takeaways, shops and restaurants in East Lancashire needed ‘urgent improvements’, according to the Food Standards Agency.

Food safety officers from across the county keep tabs on thousands of businesses which sell food as part of the Food Hygiene Ratings scheme.

Each business is then given a rating from zero to five - a measurement which shows how closely it is meeting the requirements of food hygiene law.

Currently, five have zero stars which means they need ‘urgent improvement’, including four in Blackburn and one in Barnoldswick.

A further 83 in East Lancashire were told they needed ‘major improvement’ after being given a one-star rating.

Happy Haddock in Darwen Street; Adams Newsagents in Whalley New Road; Al-Murshid Grocers in July Street, and Indian restaurant Darbar in Preston New Road, were all given zero ratings in Blackburn.

Sadiq Mallu, owner of Adams Newsagents, said he only took over the business in July - a year after its last inspection.

He said: “If I did get an inspection, I would be all right.”

Nobody could be reached at Happy Haddock, or Darbar, for comment yesterday, despite phone calls and a visit to both premises.

A man at Al-Murshid Grocers said it was not his business and nobody was available to comment.

A spokesman for Blackburn with Darwen Council said there had been a 0.43 per cent increase in the number of compliant businesses since 2012/13.

Coun Jim Smith, executive member for environment said: “It is disappointing to hear that some establishments still do not understand the importance of food hygiene, but this scheme will allow us to further investigate those places that remain in the low scoring minority within Blackburn with Darwen.”

Franky’s Chicken in Church Street, Barnoldswick, had its rating reduced to zero after an inspection in October.

Manager Irfan Afzal said customers had ‘nothing to worry about’.

He said: “The first time they came, one of the fridges in the back was not working properly, so they rated us zero.”

A spokesman for Pendle Council said Franky’s closed voluntarily for two days following the inspection.

Deputy chief executive, Philip Mousdale, said: “We agreed what needed to be improved and action was taken immediately, which meant we allowed them to re-open two days later.

“Whilst they are now operating at a standard we’re happy with, the FSA doesn’t allow businesses to be re-rated until three months after their last inspection.”

Burnley butchers, Haffner’s Quality Meats, which has premises in Market Hall in Curzon Street, and Keirby Walk, and a bakery in Marlborough Street, was given a one-star rating.

Director John Haffner said the company had five stars until around six weeks ago, when an officer found the company was using a vacuum packing machine to pack raw and cooked meats, during an inspection in September - which it has stopped doing.

He said: “They didn’t like it. They said if you use the machine for a dual purpose, you should have two.”