Eden companies helped the Food Standards Agency (FSA) launch a new national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) for food businesses this week, when Jeff Rooker, Chair of the FSA and Angela Towers, the Agency's Regional Co-ordinator visited Cranstons (Penrith) and Bells of Lazonby.
At the Cranstons' Food Hall in Penrith, the company's Managing Director, Philip Cranston was presented with the store's FHRS certificate for achieving the highest possible rating of 5. As part of the Food Standards Agency's tour around Cumbria, Jeff Rooker and Angela Towers visited the gluten, wheat and dairy free factory at Bells of Lazonby.
The national FHRS scheme which is run in partnership with the Food Standards Agency will replace the existing. 'Scores on the Doors' star rating scheme operated by Eden District Council and other local authorities in Cumbria since 2007.
The new national scoring scheme which will go live in April 2012 and is key to the FSA's objective for "safer food for the nation. The overarching aim is to reduce the incidence of food-borne illness and the associated costs to the economy - around one million people suffer from food poisoning every year at an estimated cost to the economy of £1.5 billion. The hygiene rating does not reflect the quality of food or the standard of service provided to customers.
Like the 'Scores on the Doors' scheme, the FHRS is designed to make it easier for consumers to choose places with good hygiene standards and make it easier for businesses to let customers know how good their hygiene standards are. As with the current scheme, businesses will be awarded a Hygiene Rating dependent upon the standards found at the time of the routine inspection. This will be based on:
How hygienically food is handled (prepared, cooked, cooled, stored and what measures are taken to prevent food being contaminated).
Facilities, including cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and equipment.
Management control and procedures
There are six hygiene ratings on a simple numerical scale ranging from '0' (urgent improvement necessary) at the bottom to '5' (very good) at the top. Eden food businesses will be issued with a certificate which will show the rating for their premises and also a window sticker and encouraged to display them. Hygiene ratings will be published online at: http://ratings.food.gov.uk/
The existing 'Scores on the Doors' star rating scheme has been popular and has been successful in encouraging businesses to improve hygiene standards. However this 'local' scheme and other local schemes operated by other councils vary in a number of key respects and consumers, local authorities and the food industry told the FSA in a major public consultation in 2008 that they wanted a single national scheme.
Increasing numbers of local authorities are adopting the new scheme. By the summer 2012, it is anticipated that 95% will be committed to it.
Councillor Mike Tonkin, Eden District Council's Environment Portfolio Holder said: "Ninety three percent of the 825 food businesses in Eden, are currently in the top two hygiene ratings, this is a fantastic achievement and a credit to our local business operators. The FHRS rewards the efforts of businesses that achieve and maintain high standards of hygiene and encourages businesses with lower standards to improve."
To ensure that the scheme is fair to businesses, it has been designed to include a number of safeguards. These are: an appeal procedure; a 'right to reply', and an opportunity to request a re-visit when improvements have been made in order to be reassessed for a new rating.
Further information on the scheme can be obtained from Eden District Council's Food, Health and Safety Team telephone: 01768 212491 or email: email@example.com. Alternatively, log onto the Food Standards Agency website: www.food.gov.uk/ratings
Notes to Editors
For more information contact the Communication Officer at Eden District Council telephone: 01768 212137.