Customers will be better informed when eating out, thanks to the introduction of a new scheme which tells them about the hygiene standards of food outlets.
Barrow Borough Council has announced that it will switch to a new way of displaying the hygiene standards of food businesses to consumers. The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) will be run across the borough from 1st April 2012.
This national scheme, developed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in partnership with local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, provides information on food hygiene standards to help people to choose where to eat out or shop for food. The new scheme will build on the success of the Scores on the Doors scheme that the Barrow Borough Council has been running.
Food outlets, such as restaurants, takeaways and pubs, are inspected by food safety officers from Barrow Borough Council, to check that their hygiene standards meet legal requirements. The hygiene standards found at these inspections are rated on a scale ranging from zero at the bottom (which means ‘urgent improvement necessary’) to a top rating of five (‘very good’).
These ratings will be available for anyone to view on the FSA website at www.food.gov.uk/ratings and the food business will be given a sticker and certificate and encouraged to display these at the entrance to their premises. This is so that their customers can easily see them and decide if they want to go in.
Around one million people suffer from food poisoning every year, and the FSA’s aim in developing the FHRS is to reduce this number. The ratings will give consumers a glimpse of what is going on in the kitchen when they eat out, or behind the scenes at the places they shop, before they make their decision about which place they prefer to visit.
Julie Hodgson, Environmental Health Officer said, ‘Although we have run our own successful food hygiene scheme, we have opted to change to the FHRS, as we can see the benefits for local food businesses and the people that eat or shop in them. Having a single scheme which is consistent nationwide means that the rating will have the same significance wherever people are buying food. The public will be able to use the information when deciding which food outlets to visit, and we hope that food companies will recognise that displaying a good hygiene rating is good for business.’
Catriona Stewart, Head of the Food Hygiene Ratings Team at the FSA said, ‘We recognise the real progress that has been made in improving hygiene standards in food outlets through ‘local’ food hygiene rating schemes. But having a single nationwide scheme will mean a level playing field for businesses across the country, and consumers will be able to recognise and use the ratings in their own area, as well as further from home. So it’s great news that Barrow Borough Council have announced their intention to switch to the new national scheme’.