One of Wales' most critically acclaimed and in-demand restaurants, Barry's Hang Fire Southern Kitchen, has received a 1 star hygiene rating.

The owners, have said they are "devastated" by the score which they claim was largely based on paperwork issues.

The Pumphouse-based restaurant, consistently gains rave reviews on sites like Trip Advisor and is most-often fully-booked.

But the Food Standards Agency has listed it with one of the lowest ratings awarded on its 1-5 scale.

Inspectors found the business’ hygienic food handling to be “generally satisfactory”; and the cleanliness and condition of facilities and building to be “good”, but it ruled “major improvement necessary” with regard to "management of food safety".

The rating, the report said, requires “systems or checks in place to ensure that food sold or served is safe to eat, evidence that staff know about food safety, and the food safety officer has confidence that standards will be maintained in future.”

Owners Sam Evans and Shauna Guinn, who have gone on to publish a cookbook and appear in their own TV cookery show since opening the kitchen, say they are concerned about the lasting effect the score will have on their restaurant.

Ms Guinn said: “The damage this will have on our business won’t be easy to recover from.

"Since starting Hang Fire five years ago, it has also been our mission to buy the best quality ingredients and smoke them with love.”

The business was awarded a “4” in 2017 and set about getting a “5”, but instead they got a “3”.

Ms Guinn said: “This came as a shock and we were very upset that the council felt we had regressed as a business, despite the fact that we had made even more improvements since the previous year.

"It came as a huge blow that the environmental health officer decided that the paperwork is fine one year and absolutely not the next year - we don’t understand how this can happen?”

The owners submitted an appeal on May 17, but they say their evidence went unread and a return visit was not made.

"We don’t feel that the 1 score in any way shape or form represents who we are as a business," said Ms Guinn.

"Sam and I just want to assure our customers and the general public that we take food safety extremely seriously. I am not sure the council fully appreciate the impact of their decision on staff morale, loss of earnings and damage to our reputation.

"We can assure everyone that we are working tirelessly to get this issue resolved.

A Vale council spokesman said: “The business in question is working with the council to improve the situation and has already taken steps to rectify some issues.”