Call for mandatory display of food hygiene ratings

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Stafford Borough Council’s health chief has called for food businesses across England to be forced to display their hygiene ratings.

Councillor Frank Finlay has written to Catherine Brown, Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), to back their calls for mandatory display.

In Wales and Northern Ireland businesses have a legal requirement to display their hygiene rating on their premises. In England, however, this is totally voluntary meaning that only food businesses with high scores actually put them on display.

In his letter to the FSA’s Chief Executive, Councillor Finlay wrote:

“Not all food businesses are displaying food hygiene ratings outside their premises and not everyone is aware that ratings can be found online. Mandatory display of the rating is key.

“Forcing all food businesses in England to display hygiene ratings would help to crack down on and expose businesses that put people’s health at risk by incentivising them to improve or maintain high hygiene standards. It would also force food businesses to improve standards and reduce the need for enforcement actions.”

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme helps customers to make informed choices when eating out or shopping by telling them how seriously businesses take their food hygiene standards. Stafford Borough Council inspects hundreds of businesses across the Borough to ensure they are up to scratch, with the results and reports available at www.ratemyplace.org.uk

The Council has given 545 businesses (64 per cent) the highest rating of five and 95 per cent of all the businesses in the borough have a satisfactory rating of three or higher.

Councillor Finlay wrote the letter after a meeting of the Council’s Community Services Scrutiny Committee, where support was given for mandatory display.

Councillor Finlay, Borough Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Health, said today:

“The health and wellbeing of our communities is one of the Council’s top priorities. The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme plays a crucial role in making sure that people can make informed choices about where they eat. Mandatory display of ratings would lead to more informed consumer choice and improved food hygiene standards.

“The FSA estimates that food poisoning costs the English and Welsh economies £1.6 billion every year. Lowering the rate of food poisoning cases through better food hygiene will boost the whole economy. Improved standards would also boost food business revenues. Diners want to visit high quality establishments, and hygiene is one of the reasons that drive their choice. Better food safety is not just key to a better business, but a more profitable one too.”