FSA to push mandatory FHRS for England

The Food Standards Agency is compiling evidence supporting mandatory food hygiene rating scores ready for ministers by this autumn.

It plans to use the rise in Welsh food hygiene standards since the introduction of mandatory scores in November 2013 as the cornerstone of its lobbying.

Just prior to the legislation coming into force Wales recorded the number of food businesses with a 5 rating at 45 percent with 87 per cent having a rating of 3 or above. By the end of the first 12 months numbers had risen to 56 per cent of businesses recording a 5 rating while 93 per cent of businesses were rated 3,4 or 5.

An FSA report presented last month to the National Assembly for Wales on mandatory food hygiene ratings concludes ‘Wales has led the way in the UK by introducing a statutory FHRS and the operation of the first 12 months can be considered highly successful in terms of raising food hygiene standards and consumer awareness.’

The most recent FSA audit of the FHRS in England covering 2013/14 has revealed that only 35 per cent of food businesses in England and 40 per cent in Northern Ireland are displaying their ratings in a position visible before entering the premises. Unsurprisingly most of those on display have ratings of 4 or 5.

A further audit is currently being carried out and will be available in April.

To further its argument the FSA will also take evidence from other countries, analyse local authority data on food hygiene compliance rates and survey food businesses to assess attitudes.

The FSA has also commissioned completed research by the Policies Studies Institute on the impact of the scheme on food hygiene compliance and the incidence of food borne disease, which it is yet to publish.

Graham Jukes, CIEH chief executive, commented: ‘CIEH fully supports the mandatory display of FHRS in food premises. It is clear from the evidence in Wales that mandatory display is an important and effective tool in raising standards in food businesses, driven by simple consumer information messaging. Given the evidence why are we delaying the implementation in England and the rest of the UK?”

Wales is also currently rolling out the mandatory display of food hygiene rating system for trade-to-trade businesses.

Plans are in place to introduce mandatory scores in Northern. Ireland with a new bill introduced by health minister Jim Wells currently undergoing scrutiny by the Northern Ireland Assembly health committee.

In Scotland the Food Hygiene Information Scheme differs from the rest of the UK as it is based on a ‘pass’ or ‘improvement required’ sticker. Currently voluntary there is the provision for mandatory scores under the Food (Scotland) Act 2015. The new Food Standards Scotland will replace FSA Scotland on 1 April.

Ref: http://www.ehn-online.com/

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