Hygiene ratings must be mandatory, say councils

Local authorities want all food outlets in England to be forced to display their hygiene rating and then fined or prosecuted if they don’t.

Compulsory “Scores on the Doors” ratings already exist in Wales, whilst Northern Ireland will follow suit in October this year.

In England, results – from zero to five based on factors such as kitchen cleanliness and food management – are available on the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) website. However, there’s no legal obligation to show them on the premises.

The Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, said forcing restaurants, takeaways and other foodservice sites to display a hygiene rating would improve consumer confidence and raise standards; it would also cut costs by reducing the need for enforcement action by councils.

Awareness of the ratings system is low amongst consumers, according to research by the FSA. However, once it is explained to them, 83% said they wouldn’t consider eating anywhere with less than a three out of five.

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