NOVEMBER marked the ten year anniversary of Food Hygiene Ratings since they were first introduced as a new legal requirement in Wales back in 2013.
Originally described by the media under the term ‘scores on the doors’, over the last decade the Food Hygiene Rating system has developed to become an essential part of how our Shared Regulatory Services work to keep consumers safe while encouraging businesses to maintain high standards.
The system works by enabling environmental health experts to undertake inspections of food businesses based on set criteria, and to award them with a rating between zero and five.
These ratings must then be displayed in the form of a distinctive green-and-black sticker in a prominent place, such as on the front door or window of the premises, as well as being published at the Food Standards Agency website.
The intention is to reassure consumers, enable them to make an informed choice about where they shop, and to encourage businesses to improve and maintain high standards of food hygiene and customer service.
With more than 66.5 per cent of food businesses in Bridgend County Borough displaying a top rating of five and 97.9 per cent displaying a rating of three or more, the system has been officially recognised by the Royal Society for Public Health as being one of the most significant public health achievements of the 21st century.
Across Wales, hygiene standards in food businesses have improved as a result of the mandatory scheme, with 96 per cent of food businesses now displaying a rating of three or above, while research has demonstrated that businesses with higher ratings are less likely to be responsible for outbreaks of foodborne illness.
Councillor Rhys Goode, Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning and Regeneration and Chair of the Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee, said: “There is no doubt that the Food Hygiene Ratings scheme has served to improve standards and ensure that people can make an informed choice. A strong hygiene rating is clearly good for business, and offers competitive advantages to those premises
that achieve top hygiene ratings.
“The food hygiene rating stickers offer a simple, transparent way of displaying the results of a hygiene inspection and for demonstrating not only that food is being prepared and served in a clean and hygienic way, but that the business is meeting its legislative requirements for food hygiene too.”
Nathan Barnhouse, Director of the Food Standards Agency in Wales, added: “We are proud to deliver the food hygiene rating scheme in partnership with local authorities and Welsh Government.
“Local authorities are essential to the success of the scheme. Through their regular engagement with food businesses, they have played a key role in driving up hygiene standards to where they are today.
The scheme allows people to vote with their feet or by a click of a button, and to choose those businesses that take food hygiene seriously.”