Standards of food hygiene in establishments across Hartlepool have seen significant improvements as a result of a continuing scheme.
According to the Peterlee Mail, 641 of the borough's 718 eateries were awarded three stars or above in the past 12 months as part of the Food Standards Agency's rating programme.
In addition, officials from Hartlepool Borough Council have commended the rise in the number of restaurants receiving full marks during a series of inspections.
Launched in a bid to improve standards of cleanliness across the country's food businesses, the rating scheme aims to protect public safety by encouraging higher standards.
Public protection manager Sylvia Pinkney said: "It is pleasing to note that there has been a significant increase in the proportion of five-star ratings, a 6.8 per cent increase from 2009 to 2010."
The newspaper recently revealed that local MP Grahame Morris was in support of the ongoing initiative, which allows community members to consult the scores achieved by local businesses.