By Ifan Tomos
Do you think food businesses should be required by law to display food hygiene ratings at their premises?
Under new plans outlined by the Welsh Government businesses such as restaurants, takeaways, supermarkets, as well as schools, hospitals and residential care homes will have to display their hygiene ratings if the legislation is passed.
Environmental Health Officers give a rating for hygiene ranging from 0 to 5, with 0 meaning urgent improvement is necessary and a 5 rating meaning hygiene standards are very good.
The amount of time it takes to complete an inspection and how often a business is inspected is related to the risk of the business. For example a business serving hundreds of people a day is likely to be inspected more frequently than a quiet tea shop.
At the moment after a premises has been inspected the hygiene rating is placed on the Food Standards Agency Website at http://www.food.gov.uk/ratings. Businesses are also sent a sticker and certificate with their rating, but they are not legally obliged to put these on display. This could change from 2014 if the scheme becomes mandatory.
Whilst making this edition of Wales This Week we were able to accompany Environmental Health Officers as they visited food businesses inWales. It was interesting to see how much time they had to spend with the food business owners. Understandably it’s a tense time for an owner as they know that the rating can have a big impact on their business. A very low score could keep customers away.
The inspectors work hard to give a correct rating, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the business owner will be happy with it. Appeals and re-scores could increase if it becomes compulsory as businesses strive to display and achieve the best hygiene standards. The businesses we visited took the scheme, and hygiene practices very seriously. They spent a lot of time adhering to the scheme’s hygiene requirements .However ensuring that all those who receive low ratings display them correctly could be a challenge.
A Consumer Focus Wales survey in October 2011 showed that 94 percent of people inWalesthought it should be compulsory for food businesses to display their food hygiene rating score. The ratings are already collected, and this scheme aims to make them more accessible by placing the ‘scores on the doors’. If the scheme works then food hygiene standards will be driven up acrossWales.
You can respond with your thoughts on the Food Hygiene Rating (Wales) Bill on-line at this Welsh Government website. The deadline for responses is 7th March 2012.