All food premises should be forced to display ‘Scores on the Doors’ ratings to drive up standards and protect people from the risk of eating poorly prepared food cooked by rogue operators in unsafe and unhygienic kitchens, council leaders said today.
Council environmental health teams score outlets from zero to five based on factors such as kitchen cleanliness, cooking methods and food management. However, in England, businesses do not have to display the ‘Scores on the Doors’ rating they have been awarded.
Compulsory ‘Scores on the Doors’ ratings already exist in Wales and Northern Ireland will follow suit in October this year.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England, is calling for mandatory display to be legally extended to England to help raise food hygiene standards at restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, sandwich shops, supermarkets and delicatessens, to improve transparency and reassurance for consumers. It believes that failure to comply should result in either a fine or prosecution.
Councils regularly take action against poor hygiene and safety standards at food outlets. Recent cases have seen them prosecute food outlets infested with cockroaches, dangerous structural and electrical failures and mouse droppings in food preparation areas.
Forcing food outlets to display their ‘Scores on the Doors’ rating would not only improve consumer confidence and raise standards, but would reduce the need for and cost of enforcement action by councils, the LGA insists.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:
“Anyone in England who sees a business without a hygiene rating sticker currently has to decide if they want to eat or buy food there without knowing what’s going on in the kitchen.
“It’s not always easy for people to judge hygiene standards simply by walking through the front door of a premise and know whether they are about to be served a ‘dodgy’ burger or kebab that could pose a serious risk to their health.
“Councils always take action to tackle poor or dangerous hygiene and improve conditions and see first-hand what shockingly can go on behind closed doors at rogue food premises.
“Forcing all food outlets in England to display a hygiene rating would help to crack down on and expose businesses that flout the law and put people at risk by incentivising them to improve or maintain high hygiene standards and show customers how seriously they take the issue.
“A good food hygiene rating is good for business and people in England should also now be able to use it to decide if they are happy with their choice of food outlet, or would prefer to go somewhere else with higher standards.
“With mandatory hygiene rating display already in force in Wales and becoming law in Northern Ireland this year, it is time the legislation was extended to England as well.”