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Food Standards Agency.

Food Standards Agency.

21/09/2011

FOOD HYGIENE RATING SCHEMES.

Businesses and organisations involved in catering or retail operations (restaurants, hotels, pubs, care homes, cafes, shops, takeaways, supermarkets and education establishments, staff canteens etc.) are well used to EHO inspections.  These can result in a hygiene rating which currently operates through two main schemes:-

  • The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have run their own Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS); and separately
  • Transparency Data have their ‘Scores-on-the-Doors’ scheme including website data.

The FSA reports that some 163 Local Authorities run the FHRS  and 125 run Scores-on-the-Doors but a significant number of Authorities do neither (although some use well established local schemes).

CHANGES TO COME
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have just laid down plans that will encourage all remaining abstaining local authorities to adopt their Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS).  The plans include establishing a partnership between the FSA and Transparency Data to enhance the FHRS IT platform and facilitate the integration of data from the two schemes.

Those running catering businesses will know that the ratings schemes are published in an attempt to help people choose where to eat out or shop for food, by giving them information about the hygiene standards in that establishment.

The Food Standards Agency has reached an agreement with Transparency Data to acquire the existing Scores on the Doors contracts and software and to work with them to encourage the remaining local authorities to adopt the FHRS.

This agreement will enable the Food Standards Agency to move towards publishing ratings in a single format for thousands more businesses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

SINGLE SCHEME
With this single hygiene rating scheme, consumers will know that the same criteria have been used to rate premises, readily accessible ratings will be available for consumers; consistency for businesses will improve and ultimately hygiene standards should be improved.

Whilst the impact on single outlet operations is minimal, if and when this is implemented, it will give those multi-site businesses who operate in multiple Local Authority areas a clearer and more consistent approach to achieving and maintaining high standards of food hygiene.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Currently it is not compulsory for Local Authorities to apply a rating scheme but clearly there is a drive for this to be adopted throughout the country.  Caterers should maintain high vigilance in this area irrespective of which scheme is currently in use or if no scheme is applied.  Regulations require it and of course no caterer will want to be the centre of a food poisoning outbreak. 

Stay on top of your Food Safety and Hygiene systems and you should avoid such events and if you are ever in any doubt as to what actions you should take or systems you should adopt, do call us for advice.

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