A TEST valley pub has been heavily criticised in a report after health inspectors found a kitchen fridge "covered in mould".

A report from the Food Standards Agency, who inspected Red Rover in Salisbury Road, West Wellow, said an "improvement" was necessary and gave it a food hygiene rating of 2 out 5.

But the company who own the pub, Greene King, have been left "disappointed" by the rating and says they are awaiting an "an imminent reinspection".

Inspectors, who worked with Test Valley Borough Council, concluded the standard of cleaning in the kitchen was "poor" after discovering one switched off fridge was "completely covered in mould inside".

The officer who carried out the inspection wrote in the report: "In many areas food debris and dirt were beginning to accumulate on food contact surfaces, equipment, food containers and the structure."

Health inspectors slammed the pub after finding a bag of "decomposing vegetables" and four packs of salad past their use by date when they visited on December 5.

The officer wrote: "The packs of salad were dated use by December 4; food beyond the use by date is deemed unsafe for human consumption and must not be placed on the market.

"Stock should be checked and rotated on a frequent basis and any out of date stock disposed of. This should include any decomposing food."

Officers were also concerned about the risk of cross-contamination in the pub after observing how food was stored.

The report said: "On the work surface near to the griddle there was a container of raw burgers, cooked sausages and a bowl of cooked parsnips.

"Storing ready-to-eat food and raw food together unduly exposes the former to cross-contamination."

They added: "The chopping boards that were in use were worn and cannot be effectively cleaned and disinfected.

"These must be removed from use and replaced or repaired."

The kitchen's lighting came under fire from health inspectors who highlighted the area was in "darkness", meaning staff could not prepare food safely.

They found the light had been removed and "tied cables had been left dangling" and urged more lighting should be installed.

A spokesperson from the Red Rover said: "We were very disappointed to see a drop last December from our previous 5 to 2 and have already worked with the local authority to put a number of measures in place to return to our previous high rating.

"We have acted upon all of the recommendations and are awaiting an imminent reinspection.

"All the team have worked hard to resolve the issues that were identified so that all our customers can continue to visit us in confidence."