Mandatory ‘scores on the doors’ call to bring England in line with Wales
English food businesses may soon be forced to display hygiene ratings bringing them in line with those in Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has reiterated a call to make displaying the ratings compulsory, revealing that just over half of English businesses currently do so.
Currently 89% of businesses in Wales and 87% of those in Northern Ireland display their ratings according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) compared to only 55% of English businesses.
Displaying hygiene ratings became compulsory in Wales in November 2013 and the requirement was extended to Northern Ireland in October 2016.
The FSA said it was working with the government on the issue and was “fully committed” to making the scheme mandatory in England, and according to the FSA’s most recent survey of UK consumer attitudes to mandatory displays of hygiene ratings 85% of respondents in England would support the scheme.
However, there are concerns that there are inadequate resources to enforce the scheme in England, with currently only 2.9 environmental health officers per 1000 food outlets compared to 5.5 in Wales and 4.3 in Northern Ireland.
Statistics from the National Audit Office revealed that local authority spending on food hygiene dropped from £125m to £101m between 2012/13 and 2017/18, and according to the CIEH Workforce survey, 70% of local authorities in England did not have a single environmental health apprentice between 2018-20.
Jesse Williams, head of the food hygiene ratings scheme at the FSA, told The Caterer: “Last December we submitted a revised evidence case to the department for health and social care for a statutory scheme in England with mandatory display of ratings at food business premises and online.
“We are pleased to say that we received a positive response, and we are now working closely with the department to determine how this may be progressed.
“The final decision on whether and when to introduce any legislation rests with ministers, not the FSA.”
Kate Thompson, director of CIEH Wales said: “Transparency when it comes to food hygiene helps to drive up standards and this has certainly been the experience of the schemes in Wales and Northern Ireland.
“We know from the latest available published data that local authorities in England did not have the equivalent level of resources for this work as those in the devolved nations.
“A mandatory scheme in England would need to be adequately resourced to ensure both its credibility and sustainability. There would also need to be investment to top-up training and ensure consistency in delivery of the scheme across England.”
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