Two schools have been rated as needing "major improvement" in food hygiene  - but a manager says this is "nothing to do" with safety.

Ardleigh Green Infant School and Ardleigh Green Junior School in Hornchurch were visited by inspectors from Havering Council’s environmental health team on September 7.

The resulting report on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website gives them an overall food hygiene rating of one - meaning the schools require a “major improvement”.

But Andrew Frater, the chief operating officer for Empower Learning Academy Trust, which manages the schools, said the low ratings have “nothing to do with food safety”.

In the report, the inspectors have marked the Ardleigh Green Infant school high on the criteria for hygiene and compliance, but the school’s management of food safety is questioned.

At Ardleigh Green Junior School, inspectors found the hygienic handling of food needs an upgrade.

Mr Frater told the Recorder that their trust takes food hygiene "very seriously" and the outcome of the inspection was impacted by the fact that it took place just two days into the new school year.  

He said the schools had just introduced a new contractor and they were still in the process of getting the paperwork together.

He added: “Our new catering contractor were unable to fully demonstrate their management practices and record keeping.

“We have five school sites in the trust, all have now been inspected and all with a '5' rating.

“We are awaiting a promised return visit where we will be able to demonstrate full compliance with management procedures and I am sure our rating will again be at 5.”

Mr Frater added that the inspectors' second visit is due this week, after which the schools will be given a revised rating.