FSA launches national food hygiene rating scheme
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) launched the roll-out of a national food hygiene rating scheme on 30th November 2010. There was plenty of media coverage and this video footage featured on Sky News.The bright green and black food hygiene stickers showing a rating from zero to five will soon be a feature of shopping centres and high streets, as the FSA, in partnership with local authorities, rolls out its Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.The stickers will show how good the hygiene standards are at places where people can eat or buy food, including restaurants, cafés, takeaways and supermarkets. Following inspections by local council food safety officers, the hygiene standards are rated on a scale ranging from zero at the bottom (which means ‘urgent improvement necessary’) to a top rating of five (‘very good’). A snapshot survey, recently carried out for the FSA, indicated that more than eight in 10 members of the public (86%) consider hygiene standards to be extremely important when eating out, significantly outweighing other considerations such as price and location. At least a fifth of people questioned said that they had, when eating out, sent food back for hygiene-related reasons, such as undercooked poultry (23%) and dirty plates (22%), increasing to around one in three who reported sending back undercooked meat (29%).People interviewed for the FSA research indicated that they primarily judge hygiene standards of places where they eat or buy food on the appearance of an establishment (68%), appearance of staff (44%), cleanliness of toilets (33%) and word of mouth/reputation (22%). The hygiene rating given to a food business will give customers a glimpse into the areas that they don’t normally see to get an idea of what’s going on in the kitchen, or behind the scenes. Ratings are available for anyone to view at food.gov.uk/ratings.