Plans have been announced for a nationwide scheme to help diners check out the cleanliness of their favourite restaurants.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) wants to see a single nationwide ‘scores on the doors’ scheme in place to allow consumers to check food business hygiene ratings.
The ratings would be published online but restaurants won’t initially be forced to display hygiene scores at their premises.
The move follows the success of a number of pilot projects across the country.
There are two possible national schemes under consideration.
The first involves a four tiered system, with eateries being awarded one to three stars or a fail rating
The FSA will also look at a three tier scheme with ‘Pass’ or ‘Improvement Required’ certificates being issued, alongside a fail rating. This is similar to a scheme that has already been running in Scotland.
The FSA is to launch a three month consultation and then plans to work with local authorities to finalise and implement the nationwide scheme.
Scores on the doors
FSA Chairwoman Dame Deirdre Hutton said: ‘Scores on the doors is an important step in empowering consumers to make informed choices about the food they eat.’
She added: ‘Our data shows that the introduction of a single nationwide scheme is clearly supported by all stakeholders and we will work with local authorities and food businesses across the country to put this in place.’
Which? has campaigned for a number of years for local authorities to be more transparent about the results of their inspections and to publish hygiene scores.
Which? chief policy adviser Sue Davies said: ‘We are pleased the FSA board has supported the idea of a national hygiene scheme, but disappointed that there was no decision made on what the scheme should look like.
‘We need a single scheme as soon as possible that enables consumers to distinguish the standards of different businesses and raises hygiene standards.
‘Based on the research presented to the FSA board, we think that a four tier scheme best meets these objectives.’