No decision can be made on a national ‘scores on the doors' scheme ranking restaurants on hygiene without further evidence, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been warned.
The FSA last week closed a 12-week consultation 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.
In its response to the consultation, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) warned that the FSA's evaluation reports on both schemes were weak meaning that "a true objective assessment of the relative merits of the differing opinions does not appear possible".
The CIEH said it was also disappointed that the FSA cut the evaluation period from two years to six months and "in so doing prevented proper assessment from being conducted".
"While it is acknowledged that there were good reasons for wishing to limit the proliferation of schemes, by moving rapidly towards recommendations for a national model, this did have consequences," the response said.
The CIEH proposed that a five-star, six-tier scheme be considered alongside the other options and stated that a "transparent and objective comparison of the effectiveness of different schemes is essential if the case is to be made for a single national scheme".
By Daniel Thomas
E-mail your comments to Daniel Thomas here.