Customers in Swindon will be better informed when eating out, thanks to the introduction of a new scheme which tells them about the hygiene standards of food outlets.
Swindon Borough Council have switched to a new way of displaying the hygiene standards of food businesses to consumers. The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) is now in operation across the borough and will be advertised in libraries and leisure centres across the borough in the coming weeks.
The national scheme, developed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in partnership with local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, provides information on food hygiene standards to help people to choose where to eat out or shop for food.
The new scheme will build on the success of the local Scores on the Doors scheme that the council has been running for several years.
Food outlets, such as restaurants, takeaways and pubs, are inspected by food safety officers from Swindon Borough Council, to check that their hygiene standards meet legal requirements.
The hygiene standards found at these inspections are rated on a scale ranging from zero at the bottom (which means ‘urgent improvement necessary’) to a top rating of five (‘very good’).
These ratings will be available for anyone to view on the FSA website at food.gov.uk/ratings and the food business will be given a sticker and certificate and encouraged to display these at the entrance to their premises. This is so that their customers can easily see them and decide if they want to go in.
Around one million people suffer from food poisoning every year, and the FSA’s aim in developing the FHRS is to reduce this number by giving consumers an indication of hygiene standards before they decide which place to visit.
Phil Thomas, Head of Community and commercial Safety said: “Having a single scheme, which is consistent nationwide, means that the rating will have the same significance wherever people are buying food.
“The public will be able to use the information when deciding which food outlets to visit and we hope that food companies will recognise that displaying a good hygiene rating is good for business.”
Catriona Stewart, Head of the Food Hygiene Ratings Team at the FSA said: “We recognise the real progress that has been made in improving hygiene standards in food outlets through ‘local’ food hygiene rating schemes.
“But having a single nationwide scheme will mean a level playing field for businesses across the country, and consumers will be able to recognise and use the ratings in their own area, as well as further from home.
“So it’s great news that Swindon have announced their intention to switch to the new national scheme.”