Dishing the Dirt Premiere

Tuesday, 13 October 2009, 10:35PM – 11:30PM

This brand new series for ITV1 takes viewers where they never normally get to go – behind the scenes into restaurant kitchens.

Presented by Phil Vickery and Rebecca Wilcox, the series is set to expose some of the secrets behind Britain’s £70 billion food industry.

Reporters go undercover, working as waiting staff in two branches of a well-known chain of sushi restaurants and using secret cameras to investigate just how long some of the food is going round and round on the conveyor belt.

And Rebecca hits the road with environmental health officers as they shut down a fast-food restaurant which has cockroaches in the kitchen and discover mice droppings on a chopping board at a Chinese takeaway.

The series follows Rebecca as she goes on patrol in Waltham Forest, Greater London – an area with so many fast-food restaurants that the council has brought in a policy to limit them.

Rebecca is with the environmental health officers as they inspect local takeaways.

Environmental health officer Phil Keighley tells the programme: “We just turn up unannounced and take them as we find them. If I can help a business, I will do so, but I’m more concerned about protecting the public.”

Their first inspection is at a fried chicken takeaway. Phil and his colleague Pip Broad explain that they start at the back of the property and work their way forward. They inspect the back yard, the fridges, freezers and work surfaces and, at first, everything seems clean.

But, just as they are about to leave, they spot a cockroach lurking on the fly-killer on the wall. When they pull the fridge out they find more there as well. The owner is horrified and thinks they have come from the restaurant next door when it suffered a fire.

The environmental health officers accept the owner’s explanation – but the infestation means they have to shut the takeaway down there and then.

Rebecca says: “What I didn’t expect is that the difficult side of the job is actually the fact that you’re dealing with business people. This is their livelihood and they’ve all been very nice, very co-operative and it is quite sad to see that the shop’s got to be closed. There’s a couple of hundred quid’s worth of food that will have to be chucked out and this is someone’s livelihood.

“I didn’t really think of this side of the job. It must be quite hard to deal with that.”

Next, Rebecca and the officers visit a Chinese takeaway which scored zero in the hygiene rating scheme last time it was inspected. The officers are shocked to see there hasn’t been much of an improvement.

They find mouse droppings behind the freezer and in the corners of the rooms and even find some on a chopping board under the sink.

They also check a store cupboard that used to have a toilet in it and are horrified to find that the soil pipe has been left open – which means smells, bacteria and possibly even rats could come up the pipe into the room where food is stored.

In the back yard of the takeaway they find piles of raw meat and a bucket containing red liquid and strips of a meat that is unidentifiable.

Pip and Phil decide to give the owners an improvement order, which means they will be allowed time to make changes, but if they don’t, they will be closed down.

Five months later Rebecca goes back with the inspectors and finds that the owners have cleaned up their act – the mouse droppings have gone, there is no longer food in the yard and they have a put a temporary cap on the soil pipe. Pip explains that the capping needs to be made permanent, but they are pleased with the takeaway’s improvement.

Dishing the Dirt is a ITV Studios production for ITV1. The producer is Jill Worsley and the executive producer is Sarah Caplin.

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