THE Westgate’s Mexican restaurant has been slammed over swollen tubs of pina colada mix, a foul smell and a risk of food poisoning.

Benito’s Hat in the Westgate Social – an area of street food vendors in the new shopping centre – was given a two-star rating by hygiene inspectors in November.

They found that hot food was being cooled and reheated again if leftover and warned this could lead to bacteria multiplying and cause food poisoning.

The Oxford City Council environmental health officers also said the majority of food handlers had not completed any food hygiene training.

The company said it had since changed the management team and was working with food safety specialists to improve.

The inspectors said: “There was a foul smell in the display fridge area, near customer seating area.

“To avoid unwanted odours attracting food pests and to make for a more pleasant working environment, investigate the source of this odour.”

Rice and other hot food was also being kept below the recommended 63C temperature, sparking fears over bacteria growth.

Fresh herbs were stored close to raw meat – which could also lead to food poisoning.

Management was also told to investigate the swollen nature of its cocktail tubs.

The officers said: “Two tubs of cocktail mixes for the pina colada drink were swollen (‘blown’) in appearance.

“The mixes were in date and manufacturers’ instructions stated they are to be stored in a cool place, as they were.

“Swollen or ‘blown’ packs can be a sign that bacteria have grown in food or drinks – you might want to investigate the cause of this matter.”

The restaurant was rated ‘poor’ when it came to food hygiene and safety but inspectors had ‘some’ confidence in management to turn things around.

They added: “It took a long time for the hot water to come through the hand wash basin – it is unlikely that anybody had been using it as regularly as they should have been.

All other Benito’s Hat restaurants have a four or five-star rating apart from one of its London venues which, has a one-star rating but is awaiting a re-score.

A spokesperson for Benito’s Hat said: “Since the initial inspection we have changed the management team in Oxford and have increased the focus on operational standards and food safety.

“We are working with our food safety specialists and the council to ensure that our Oxford restaurant achieves the same high standards as the rest of our business.”