FSA ‘Scores on the Doors’ likely to become mandatory
The food hygiene standard dubbed ‘Scores on the Doors’ could become mandatory once the initial roll-out across the country is complete. The board of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) met earlier this week (22 May) and discussed the food hygiene ratings system (FHRS) and Scottish food hygiene information scheme (FHIR) rating schemes.
Chairman Jeff Rooker concluded a “mandatory approach will strengthen the schemes and health protection” and said the FSA would talk to other government departments about future mandation.
FSA operations director Andrew Rhodes said most local authorities had wholeheartedly supported the schemes and, by the end of the year, 97% of local authorities would be taking part. So far, 318,000 businesses are signed up.
Head of enforcement and local authority delivery Sarah Appleby told the meeting that the FSA had had positive feedback from consumers and businesses, and that the priority for the FSA was to work closely with local authorities to encourage 100% uptake. She added that improving awareness of the schemes was vital and the FSA was working with tourist boards and restaurant reviews to try and improve consumer awareness.
The board considered the impact of mandatory hygiene mark schemes in other countries, such as the Toronto Dine Safe scheme and the Denmark Smiley scheme, both of which led to a reduction hospital admissions.
Deputy chair Tim Bennett added that he supported mandation. “The burdens for business will be very small,” he said.
Last week the FSA published research on attitudes to mandatory display of the voluntary food hygiene ratings systems, which found that although there was support among consumers and local authority participants, concerns were also raised about the reliability of ratings and inspections over time. It was also feared that a mandatory scheme may have a detrimental impact on trade, as well as affecting costs and the time and responsibility of enforcing the scheme.
The Welsh Assembly has already announced draft legislation to require food businesses, including butchers’ shops, restaurants, takeaways and supermarkets, to display their FHRS score in a prominent position, such as at the entrance to their premises, or face a fine.