A NEW Forest pub which was slammed in a damning report by health inspectors has now been praised for having “very good” hygiene standards.

A report produced by environmental health chiefs who inspected the Gamekeeper pub gives it the highest possible food hygiene rating - 5 out of 5.

During a visit on October 4, inspectors working with New Forest District Council found that food handling, cleanliness and food safety at the pub in Woodlands were all “good”, but no further information was available at the time of going to press.

A report stated that “major improvements” were necessary and gave the pub a food hygiene rating of 1.

However, the watering hole in Woodlands Road has since been taken over by new tenants and its fortunes turned around.

As previously reported by the Echo, a pub spokesperson said: “Work was completed and a revisit highlighted that inspectors would give the new kitchen and cellar a five-star rating but we would have to pay £162 and would be completed within three months, but there is a change of tenancy in three weeks time that will require a new inspection regardless.

“So the recommendation was to wait for the reinspection under the new tenancy.”

However, during a previous inspection in July officers found raw meat stored with salad as well as expired food and flies.

An officer who carried out the inspection in July, said: “I found numerous items of food that had expired the use by date applied by staff.

“As these products were stored in the kitchen I presumed they were for sale.

“When I arrived at the pub I found a dog locked behind the bar.

“Food law states domestic animals should not have access to places where food is handled, prepared or stored, including the bar.”

Inspection of the kitchen revealed unclean conditions and that “thorough cleansing” had not taken place for some time.

Officers later found fruit flies in the cellar and the cellar floor soiled with beer spillages.

The Gamekeeper did not respond to a Daily Echo request for comment.