ALLEGATIONS of food poisoning at Oxford's most famous hotel have resulted in a poor hygiene report by inspectors.

The Randolph was visited by Oxford City Council's health team last month after a customer who ate a mackerel arancini – a stuffed rice ball – and hake with green vegetables complained of feeling unwell after the meal.

A non-scheduled visit to the five-star hotel's kitchens, which cater for its Acanthus restaurant, was carried out on November 1.

It resulted in the business being given a two-star rating, which means 'improvement necessary'.

A spokesman said the hotel was 'very disappointed' by the report and had 'already actioned' all recommendations ahead of a new inspection in February.

Causes of concern found by health inspectors in relation to the allegation included a 'defective' wash basin where the arancini starter was made, as well as issues with the lack of temperature records for how the rice was cooled.

Other problems included a risk of contamination from the vacuum packing used to store the hake and a generally 'unacceptable' level of cleanliness throughout.

A report after this unscheduled visit stated: "The standard of cleaning throughout the kitchen was unacceptable."

It referred to an "accumulation of food, debris, grease evident beneath equipment."

On the condition of floor surfaces, it added: "Throughout the kitchen and in particular beneath equipment such as refrigerators, work tables, cookers etc, were in a filthy condition."

The inspectors also expressed concern about the use of vacuum packing machines, explaining: "One chef said cooked prawns had been vacuum packed using the 'raw' only machine. Review use and ensure staff training."

The report added the vacuum packing bags were out in the open with items on top of them posing a risk of contamination.

It went on to recommend storing raw meat and fish bags separately to 'ready to eat' bags to also reduce this danger.

The report concluded the standard of vacuum packing was 'poor'.

The Government's Food Standards Agency website states vacuum packing can be used to increase the shelf-life of chilled foods by limiting the growth of micro organisms.

But it warns under certain circumstances bacterium called Clostridium botulinum may grow in the absence of oxygen and could produce 'harmful toxins'.

A spokesman for Macdonald Randolph said: “We are very disappointed at the results of this inspection, which fall below the extremely high standards for which the Macdonald Randolph Hotel is well-known.

"We have already actioned all the points raised in the report and will be closely monitoring the situation on an ongoing basis.

“We have requested a further inspection takes place in February, and are very confident that the steps taken will ensure a five-star rating.”

It comes just days after the Beaumont Street hotel unveiled a £100,000 refurbishment of its grand ballroom.

At the time, general manager Simon Drake, who took over at the 19th century hotel earlier this year, said renovations marked the 're-birth of the Randolph'.

The work is part of an extensive £1.5m redesign of the entire hotel which has also seen its frontage cleaned and the metal and glass canopy at the entrance restored.