The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is to launch a 12-week consultation on the potential nationwide rollout of a "scores on the doors" scheme ranking restaurants on hygiene levels.
The move comes after a pilot scheme that has been running in Scotland since November 2006.
The FSA is to consult on two possible schemes: a four-tiered system with three stars and a fail rating; and a three-tiered scheme with "pass", "improvement required" and "fail" ratings.
Once the consultation has closed, the FSA will work with local authorities to finalise and implement the scheme.
FSA chair Dame Deirdre Hutton said: "Scores on the doors is an important step in empowering consumers to make informed choices about the food they eat.
"Our data shows that the introduction of a single nationwide scheme is clearly supported by all stakeholders and we will work with local authorities and food businesses across the country to put this in place."
The FSA is recommending a voluntary approach to the display of scores, which will also be available to consumers via the internet. It does not believe advocating a mandatory approach would be in line with the principles of better regulation.
By Kerstin Kühn
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