Force businesses to display food hygiene ratings, say councils

Businesses should be forced to display "scores on the doors" hygiene ratings to drive up standards and protect the public from rogue operators and unhygienic premises, councils have argued.

Environmental health teams score outlets from zero to five based on factors such as kitchen cleanliness, cooking methods and food management. However, while displaying the scores is already compulsory in Wales and will be introduced later this year in Northern Ireland, businesses in England do not have to put them on show.

The Local Government Association is calling for mandatory display to be extended to raise hygiene standards at restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, sandwich shops, supermarkets and delicatessens, with failure to comply resulting in a fine or prosecution.

It added that councils already take action against premises with poor hygiene and food safety standards, with recent prosecutions for cockroach infestations, dangerous structural and electrical failures and having mouse droppings in food preparation areas.

Forcing food outlets to display their "score on the door" rating would not only improve consumer confidence and raise standards but also would reduce the need for and cost of enforcement action, the association said.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA's Safer & Stronger Communities Board, said: "It's not always easy for people to judge hygiene standards simply by walking through the front door of a premise and know whether they are about to be served a 'dodgy' burger or kebab that could pose a serious risk to their health.

"Councils always take action to tackle poor or dangerous hygiene and improve conditions and see first-hand what shockingly can go on behind closed doors at rogue food premises.

"Forcing all food outlets in England to display a hygiene rating would help to crack down on and expose businesses that flout the law and put people at risk by incentivising them to improve or maintain high hygiene standards and show customers how seriously they take the issue.

"A good food hygiene rating is good for business and people in England should also now be able to use it to decide if they are happy with their choice of food outlet, or would prefer to go somewhere else with higher standards.

"With mandatory hygiene rating display already in force in Wales and becoming law in Northern Ireland this year, it is time the legislation was extended to England as well."