Mixed reaction to ‘scores on the doors' scheme

20 March 2008 by
Mixed reaction to ‘scores on the doors' scheme

A potential nationwide rollout of a "scores on the doors" scheme ranking restaurants on hygiene levels must be handled carefully, industry figures have warned.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is to launch a 12-week consultation on the initiative after a pilot scheme that has been running in Scotland since November 2006.

The FSA will 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 across the UK.

John Dyson, food and technical adviser at the British Hospitality Association, welcomed a national rollout but warned that implementation would need to be handled solely by the FSA.

"If a scores on the doors system is to be rolled out it has to be a nationwide scheme that the FSA and not local councils consults on," he said. "The necessary funding to implement the scheme will have to be provided by the FSA."

Dyson added that the scheme should not include stars as this would only confuse consumers who might think it was the same as the Michelin or hotel rating system.

Paul Heathcote, director of restaurant group Heathcotes, warned that the scheme was entering dangerous territory. "A restaurant might be rated with poor hygiene standards and then sort the problem out within a few weeks but not get the improved marks because the inspectors only come round once a year," he said.

"It seems like a glorified job that isn't actually serving any function at all and the time and money going into its implementation could be used for a much better cause."

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