Clooney sandwich shop hit with 22 hygiene fails


A SANDWICH shop that became world-famous after it was visited by George Clooney has failed its hygiene inspection for the second year running.

The Social Bite cafe in Edinburgh was hit last month – two weeks after Clooney’s visit – with 10 legally-required improvements to food storage, handling and cleanliness.

The notice was served despite the cafe being ordered to make 12 legally-required hygiene improvements last year.

Problems at the Rose Street premises included raw eggs stored above ready-to-eat areas, equipment not hot enough to stop harmful bacteria growing, and missing and damaged wall and floor covering.

Social Bite, which has five cafes in Scotland, gives at least a quarter of its jobs to former homeless people and donates its profits to charity. Clooney put Social Bite on the world map when he visited the Rose Street cafe in November.

Clooney was mobbed when he visited the city last month
Clooney was mobbed when he visited the city last month


And on Monday he launched their Christmas fundraising campaign by being the first to donate the first £5. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited on Tuesday to make her pledge with other donations coming from Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy, comedian Rob Brydon, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, TV presenter Chris Evans and Scotland football manager, Gordon Strachan.

But not everything is a rosy behind the scenes, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act by the environmental health department of Edinburgh Council.

The cafe failed its inspection on November 24 with ten legal requirements and two recommendation breaches noted.

Two shelves of the hot holding service unit did not appear to be operating at 63 degrees or above – a legal requirement – resulting in the inspector telling the manager to “remove food, investigate and resolve”.

And raw eggs were found sitting over the ready to eat preparation area.

Other actions that were noted included: “Do not handle any unwashed vegetables in a ready to eat area, the area under the coffee machine needs cleaned, there is no mention of reheating on the temperature control house rules – amend” and “do not use domestic non-bacterial detergent for washing dishes.”.

The sandwich shop also failed their previous inspection back in November last year on the grounds of 12 legal requirements.

Reasons included: “The walls throughout the kitchen need deep cleaned. Keep the temperature probe clean at all times. Deep clean the floor in the packaging storeroom. Designate separate chemical bottles for use in the raw area – they need to be easy to identify” and “you must restart temperature records immediately”.

Excited crowds gathered outside the small sandwich shop in the freezing cold during Clooney’s visit.

The star, who made a £1,000 donation, ate an avocado, pesto and pepper wrap but there is nothing to suggest he came to any harm.

The narrow lane was mobbed with the world’s media and fans all desperate to get a glimpse of the megastar. Clooney chatted with fans, signed autographs and took selfies before going inside and meeting with staff.

Clooney visited the cafe to show his support
Clooney visited the cafe to show his support


The founder of the chain, Josh Littlejohn, previously persuaded US president Bill Clinton to attend the Scottish Business awards.

Social Bite’s website states: “We prepare delicious hand made food everyday, using fresh, healthy and local produce. Our menu is created by Michelin star chef Mike Mathieson, and is competitively priced, offering outstanding value for money.

“But the main difference between Social Bite and the rest is that we are a ‘Social Business’.

“This means that 100% (every single penny) of our profits are given to good causes and 1 in 4 of our team are formerly homeless people.”

A spokesman for Social Bite said: “Seven of our eight units passed with just the Edinburgh Rose Street shop requiring a number of very small changes such as not using domestic washing up liquid when doing the dishes.

The spokesman said they had a “great working relationship” with environmental health officers “and will have a follow up visit in January where we will have implemented all their suggestions”.

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