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Restaurants' hygiene ratings to go on net

16 August 2005

Two London councils and one in Scotland are publishing restaurants' food hygiene records on the internet to meet new Freedom of Information Act guidelines.

Camden and Greenwich councils and the Highland council have decided to post food outlets' hygiene ratings on their websites.

Theo Blackwell, deputy leader of Camden Council, said: "This is absolutely in the best interest of the trade and consumers. Consumers are entitled to know about the real condition of the food business they're about to buy from."

The public can currently request hygiene inspection results under the Freedom of Information Act, although they may have to wait weeks to receive them.

Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, said: "People need to know restaurants and take-aways are meeting the highest hygiene standards, when they were inspected, what was found and what remedial action was taken. Publication provides an additional incentive for outlets to ensure their kitchens are up to scratch."

But some councils have backed off from publishing the results until they have taken legal advice. Westminster council, which has more than 2,000 food outlets, has sought its lawyers' opinion, but denied being unwilling to set up the system.

A spokesman said: "The council is currently getting further legal advice and the position may change, but at the moment publication is considered case by case."

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