The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has officially launched its hygiene rating scheme. The public can now search for food businesses and their hygiene ratings at food.gov.uk/ratings.
With the launch of the long-mooted scheme, the FSA hopes the voluntary system will now be adopted wholesale by councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, superseding the Scores on the Doors scheme currently in use by many.
The FSA scheme closely resembles the Scores on the Doors format, but the star system has been ditched in favour of a number rating from 0 (urgent improvement necessary) to a top rating of five (very good), after feedback suggested it would be easier for the public to understand.
Results of inspections will be displayed, ideally in a premise's window, via a black and green sticker.
Jeff Rooker, chairman of the FSA, said: "Many people suffer from food poisoning every year, but we shouldn't feel we are gambling with our health when we eat out. In developing this scheme, we wanted to give people the ability to judge for themselves whether they considered the hygiene standards of a food outlet to be good enough. If customers are looking for a hygiene rating, this will drive businesses to improve their standards."
Inspection checklist A food safety officer from the local authority inspects a business to check that it meets the requirements of food hygiene law. The hygiene standards found at the time of inspection are then rated on a scale. At the inspection, the officer will check:
How hygienically the food is handled - how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored
The condition of the structure of the buildings - the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities
How the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe
By Chris Druce
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