The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is setting out its plans to encourage all remaining local authorities in England and Northern Ireland to adopt the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS).
The plans are for:
- A new 'priorities fund' to cover the costs that local authorities may face after adopting the scheme from unexpectedly high levels of re-visit requests from food businesses. This is in addition to the existing grant funding programme for pre-launch work.
- A partnership between the FSA and Transparency Data - the company currently running the scoresonthedoors.org.uk website - to enhance the FHRS IT platform and facilitate the integration of data from the two schemes.
- An 'FHRS pledge' for food businesses that have outlets across the country to give their support to the FHRS.
The FHRS helps people choose where to eat out or shop for food, by giving them information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafés, takeaways, hotels, and so on. Supermarkets and other food shops are also included in the scheme.
There are 163 local authorities already up and running with the FHRS, and many others are preparing to launch it. But discussions with local authorities over the past 18 months have revealed the reasons why some are not yet committed to the Agency's scheme. These include concerns about potential costs, particularly for re-visits, the IT system used for displaying the ratings, or simply a desire to remain with well-established local schemes.
The measures announced today aim to address the concerns of the local authorities that have not yet signed up to the FHRS, and encourage them to adopt the scheme voluntarily and ahead of the Olympics next year.
In addition to the FHRS, there is another similar scheme currently in operation, known as 'scores on the doors'. Transparency Data publishes hygiene scores for the 125 local authorities who use the Scores on the Doors scheme.
The FSA has reached agreement with Transparency Data to acquire the existing Scores on the Doors contracts and software and to work with the firm to encourage remaining local authorities to transfer to the FHRS. The agreement will enable the Agency to move towards publishing ratings in a single format for thousands more businesses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
All local authorities in Wales are now running the FHRS. A different scheme, with similar aims, is being rolled out by local authorities in Scotland.
Source: Food Standards Agency (FSA)