SIX takeaways, one restaurant and a shop have been ordered to make urgent improvements to their standards of food hygiene following inspections by environmental health watchdogs.

Ratings listed on a government website show that the businesses all scored zero ratings in the Food Standards Agency’s official rating scheme when visited for spot checks.

The inspections were made between November 2013 and this April. Those with the lowest scores are being named by the Star in what is National Food Safety Week.

Four in the town centre are Cafe Carlos on Westfield Street, Balti Masala on Ormskirk Street and Hot Stuff on Duke Street, and the Taj restaurant on Cotham Street. Five Ways Chip Inn, on Eccleston Street, Helen’s Fish and Chips in Thatto Heath and Vindaloo Express on Cambridge Road were also handed the lowest rankings.

The Four Seasons store on Bassenthwaite Avenue, Clinkham Wood, was the only shop to score zero.

El Patio Pizza, on Westfield Street, was another to be rated zero but it is no longer trading and the premises are being taken over by another business, according to St Helens Council’s Environmental Health department All the other premises are currently trading but subject to ongoing follow up visits by inspectors, added the council.

The Food Standards Agency hopes the scheme encourages businesses to improve hygiene standards and reduce episodes of food poisoning.

Inspections are carried out by council officers who check how hygienically the food is handled and stored.

Six ratings can be dished out - zero for businesses in need of urgent improvement and a five for businesses ranked as very good. Ratings are not a guide to food quality.

A further 35 places that serve food in St Helens were given scores of one, meaning watchdogs believe major improvements were needed.

Watchdogs stressed that this was out of 1060 food businesses within the borough.

St Helens Council added that watchdogs operate a risk-based inspection strategy, so lower rated businesses will be receiving more regular inspections than those that score higher ratings.