A DELI owner has slammed a one-star hygiene rating of his Oxford shop as ‘extremely unfair’ and said the low score could force him out of business.

Mahdy Tavakkoly, who opened Hayfield Deli four years ago, was given the single star following a surprise visit by Oxford City Council's health team in February.

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A report following the inspection criticised the 'potentially unsafe' preparation of olives, storage of raw chicken near cooked food, the temperature of falafels out for sale and an 'unacceptably dirty' kitchen.

Issues with the poor condition of the deli's floor were also raised as well as fears rodents could access the business's dry food store.

Oxford Mail:

The Iranian chef, however, has defended the shop saying he worked at Oxford University’s All Souls' College for 15 years before opening the Persian food deli and was no stranger to high standards.

He said: “I was surprised and shocked by the rating. I think it is extremely unfair and quite bullying by the council when I am such a small business.”

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The most serious concern was over the health risk from olives and falafels, with the report stating of the former: "Marinating fresh products in oil poses the risk of growth by Clostridium botulinum."

The bacteria can lead to the ''very rare but life-threatening condition' botulism, according to NHS.uk.

Oxford Mail:

Inspectors also advised to "reduce the risk of food poisoning bacteria multiplying to dangerous levels" that falafels and other 'high-risk' foods not be displayed at room temperature for more than four hours.

Mr Tavakkoly said he stood by the safety of his food and he believed the rules were ‘too strict’ , adding he had not changed his methods since getting a five-star score in 2015 and four stars in 2017.

More of the latest Oxfordshire hygiene inspections

He said he would be replacing his flooring to comply with a recommendation in the food hygiene report the cost, which he estimated would be around £4,000, could 'send him bankrupt' and since he received the low rating, which means ‘major improvement necessary’, he had seen a reduction in trade.

Oxford Mail:

Despite the recent problems the deli is popular with customers and currently has 4.9 out of five stars on Google reviews, with one happy diner writing: “The deli offers middle eastern style food that is simply delicious.

"It has by far the best humus in Oxford and their spinach feta pies are amazing. The owner and staff are super friendly.”

The Oxford Mail’s Katherine MacAlister also called Mr Tavakkoly’s food ‘second to none’ when

she took a cooking class taught by him as part of Jericho Kitchen in 2016.