A large Swindon supermarket has been given the lowest possible rating for its food hygiene.

The Asda superstore at the Orbital Shopping Centre is one of the largest supermarkets in the town, serving food to thousands of people every week.

But environmental health inspectors slammed the poor standards on their recent visit, saying Asda staff were not managing the safety and cleanliness of its products effectively.

Swindon Borough Council’s Environmental Health team inspected the large business on Tuesday, October 10 and deemed it so bad that it needed urgent improvement and slapped it with a hygiene rating of zero out of five.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Swindon's Asda has been hit with a zero hygiene rating.

The council does not recommend its residents buy food from any business with a rating below three.

Last month's inspection focused on the food preparation activities that are run by Asda themselves such as the bakery and rotisserie. 

Asda failed on all sections of the criteria required to be a safe and healthy food vendor but vowed to “immediately” improve conditions at the Swindon branch.

However, both the council and the multimillion-pound firm refused to reveal to the Adver and its customers what exactly the problems were and where they were found in the store.

And there has been no indication of how long the poor hygiene standards were ongoing in the busy shop before the inspection.

The damning report deemed that major improvement was necessary in regard to the staff’s hygienic handling of food.

This covers the preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage of produce.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

Major improvement to the cleanliness and condition of both the building as well as the facilities is also required according to the inspectors’ notes.

This refers to having the appropriate layout, ventilation, hand washing facilities and pest control to enable good food hygiene in the store.

Asda’s management of food safety throughout their North Swindon shop, which opened in November 2001, was also found to be requiring major improvement.

This category regards the store having the system or checks to ensure that food sold or served is safe to eat.

It also concerns evidence that staff know about food safety and that the food safety officer has confidence that standards will be maintained in future.Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: The supermarket has declined to comment on what the exact reasons for the lowly score were.The supermarket has declined to comment on what the exact reasons for the lowly score were. (Image: Dave Cox)

A spokesperson for the supermarket said: “As soon as we were made aware of these findings all of the recommended actions were implemented immediately.

“We can reassure customers at our Swindon Haydon store that improvements have been made.

“We have applied for a re-rating and expect to receive a rating that reflects the high standards that we set ourselves."

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: The store's hygienic handling of food was criticised by inspectors.The store's hygienic handling of food was criticised by inspectors. (Image: Dave Cox)

Despite being common practice at other authorities, Swindon Borough Council has refused to release the inspector's full hygiene report into the business.

The Foods Standards Agency website even says that councils will "usually" send copies of reports on request.

But instead, an SBC spokesperson told this newspaper: “We need to make it clear that this inspection focused on the food preparation activities that are run by Asda, including the bakery, pizza, and rotisserie.

"It does not relate to the Sushi bar or the customer restaurant, which are run by separate businesses.

“Hygiene ratings provide a snapshot of the standards of food hygiene found at the time of inspection and help consumers to make informed decisions.

"It is the responsibility of the business to comply with food hygiene law at all times.

“Although the supermarket was given a zero rating, we provided the management of Asda with clear guidance and advice on what action needed to be taken; some of which was actioned immediately.

"We will carry out a further inspection and scoring in due course.

“In some cases, if improvements have not been made at a zero-rated premises we will prosecute the owner of the business.”

As reported by the Grocery Gazette, ASDA is on course to become the UK's second-largest supermarket change, with profits of £886,000,000 announced last year.

Speaking to the website, co-owner Mohin Issa said they had made a “conscious decision to support customers by investing heavily to mitigate the impact of inflation and keep prices as low as possible” after buying the chain two years ago.

“Although this contributed to a decline in profitability, it was the right thing to do for our customers and will ultimately help to deliver long-term growth,” he said.

He added that they were 'laying the foundations to restore Asda to the number two position in UK grocery' by 'focusing on giving customers desirable products at affordable prices and the ability to shop with us whenever and however they like'.