Restaurants, takeaways and cafes will be graded via a six-tier voluntary "scores on the doors" scheme in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced today.
The decision will anger many operators within hospitality who had wanted a simple "pass" or "improvement needed" approach, as used in Scotland.
The scheme, although voluntary, will encompass all businesses that supply food direct to consumers and includes supermarkets. It will involve grades from one to five, plus a zero or "fail" rating.
The British Hospitality Association has argued against stars, fearing they could be confused for other award schemes, such as Michelin for restaurants or hotel stars.
A decision will be made on what symbols to use to represent the tiers after additional consumer research, the FSA said.
Sarah Appleby, head of enforcement at the Food Standards Agency, said: "Consumers and many local authorities have told us that they support systems that show a range of hygiene standards. Some businesses who responded to our consultation also supported a progressive scale but most had concerns about this approach."
A steering group will be set up by the FSA to see the introduction of the national scheme.
By Chris Druce
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