AN OXFORD fish and chip shop open for nearly 20 years has praised the council's food hygiene bosses after catching the best possible rating.

Mediterranean Fish Bar in Cherwell Drive, Marston has been open for 19 years and manager Kemal Koc said the city fares better than most when it comes to hygiene.

Mr Koc, who said his team have always scored five stars, said: "Oxford is better than most places. I went to Chesterfield the other day and there were a few places I saw that would have been closed down if they were in Oxford.

"I didn't know how they could keep the place like that, unsurprisingly they hardly had any customers.

"Oxford City Council's inspectors are very good. They explain all the rules very carefully and if you follow them you will do well."

The shop scored 'Very Good when it came to Food Hygiene and Safety – the highest in the category that monitors food handling practices and procedures and temperature control.

Mr Koc said this was partly down to his staff's diligence but also because at all times one employee's sole focus was on cleaning up.

He said: "We always clean everything up immediately, some places they may leave it for later or do it all in one go, but it's important to always clean.

"The rules are made clear and you have to follow them.

"Every so often as well we will have a proper tidy, or repaint the place or something like that."

Since the rating system was introduced by Oxford City Council in 2009, recent figures showed 86 per cent of restaurants in the city have either a four or five star rating.

Mr Koc said the system had been a big influence and that hygiene was more important than ever before to restaurateurs.

He said: "Over the past six or seven years things have really progressed, health and food hygiene are now so important to people.

"I can see that with customers being more aware how clean restaurants are and restaurants becoming cleaner."

Rival takeaways have come and gone over the years and in recent times Pizza Hut Delivery has pitched up next door.

The team welcomed the competition but said its secret was to keep doing what it does best.

He said: "You will always have other restaurants nearby but there's no point trying to chase what they are doing.

"I have always kept most of the same staff and we still cook everything in the same way and offer the same things.

"It's not just local people we have regular customers who come to use from, Cowley, Kidlington, Summertown all over really."