The Food Standard Agency's (FSA) decision to go with a six-tier "scores on the doors" scheme will burden businesses with unnecessary bureaucracy, leading hospitality figures have claimed.
Speaking at Caterer's round table discussion last Friday (16 January), sponsored by P&G Professional, Rob Easton, regional manager for brewer Hall and Woodhouse, said:
"A business that has complied with the letter of the law will only reach a certain level of ‘stars' under this scheme. The Government's Hampton Report on reducing red-tape] says we shouldn't be burdening businesses, but this could force them to go further than required by legislation [to earn a higher rating]."
James Ullman, head of retail audit at pub company JD Wetherspoon, warned there was a danger that the public wouldn't understand the implications of a six-tier system.
"If you have a ‘three-star' rating in this scheme you are overridingly safe. ‘Five-stars' means you have detailed administrative controls, which a small business or restaurant won't have the resources to implement. But the public will not understand this and not having five-stars might well put them off," said Ullman.
Easton also criticised the six-tier scheme and added: "You get the impression that the scheme was shoehorned in because it was the end of 2008 and they had set a deadline on a decision, not because it was the right scheme."
Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers said a simple pass or fail scheme, as used in Scotland, would have won much more support from the hospitality industry.
"If I get on a plane I expect it to be safe, or I want to know if it's dangerous so I won't fly on it. I don't want to see some score suggesting how likely it is to crash," said Bish.
Look out for a full report on the round table debate next month in Caterer.
By Tom Vaughan
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