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Restaurateurs furious over online reports

16 December 2005
Restaurateurs furious over online reports

Norwich restaurateurs this week slammed a council decision to publish environmental health reports online.

From last week, official reports for food premises inspections have been available to the public on the Norwich City Council website.

But restaurateurs have hit out at the move, saying long delays between inspections mean their reputations could be unfairly tainted.

"The problem is inconsistency and misinterpretation - the reports need to be translated in full for the general public," said Geoff Ward, managing director of Hygiene Monitoring Services. "If a business isn't going to be inspected again for some time, the report should show that."

Norwich's Mad Moose restaurant will have to wait until the middle of next year to have its online "no stars" status updated, even though this was only because of its lack of records. Assistant manager Felicity Jackson said: "They told us we wouldn't be able to have any stars until next year. We now have to rely on our past reputation. We're very disappointed."

A BBC survey last month highlighted that there are more than 700 vacancies for environmental health officers across the country and that nearly two-thirds of local authorities admit their environmental health departments are seriously understaffed.

Jenny Morris, policy officer for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said: "We believe that a ‘scores on the doors' scheme could greatly assist consumers in choosing where to eat."

Norwich City Council's decision to publish reports online follows the leads of Camden, Greenwich and Highland councils.

By Amanda Smith

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