HUNDREDS of hygiene warnings were handed out to Reading's eateries and food stores over the last year, it has been revealed.

Inspectors were forced to serve 650 written warnings for problems such as cleanliness and the separation of foods, according to data from the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The businesses inspected are most likely to be restaurants, but can also include any establishment which handles unpacked food.

A total of 1,308 inspection were carried out over the 12 months leading up to April, with nearly half of them receiving warnings.

Breaches include problems with cleanliness, training of staff, record keeping, washing facilities and separation of cooked and raw foods.

Nina Purcell, director of regulatory delivery at the FSA, said: "It is encouraging that local authorities have made improvements in the percentage of interventions achieved and are continuing to target their activities at food businesses where food safety risks are the highest or where food fraud is more likely."

As well as the written warnings, in Reading there were 15 hygiene improvement notices, four hygiene prohibition notices, two voluntary closures, one food seizure and one prohibition order. Inspectors carried out one successful prosecution in court, for food hygiene breaches.

High risk scores were given to eight businesses, which means they need to be inspected again within six months.

This rating is different from the 0 to 5 score that restaurants and takeaways display in their windows, as it is an indicator of when officials need to assess the business again.

A business which gets a high risk rating is 'highly likely' to have breached food hygiene regulations, according to the FSA.

Hot Stuff Tandoori in Oxford Road closed down voluntarily after inspectors unearthed a rat infestation.