A new system for rating hygiene in Liverpool’s food businesses has been hailed a success after its first year of operation.
The city council adopted the food hygiene rating scheme, a national rating system operated by the Food Standard Agency and local authorities, in January 2013.
And in its first year it has seen an increase in the number of food outlets achieving the highest hygiene rating.
Businesses are rated from 0 to 5 with five being the highest standard. In January 2013 there were 1330 businesses with a five-star rating – a year later this had increased to 1455; 668 had a 4 –star rating in 2013 and this rose to 729 in 2014.
At the other end of the scale 21 premises were given a zero rating in 2013 but this has declined to eight a year later.
Councillor Tim Moore, city council cabinet member, said: “There is no doubt that this system has had a beneficial impact on restaurants, cafes, pubs and other food outlets.
“Customers, quite rightly demand the highest levels of hygiene and they vote with their feet when this is not demonstrated.
“In Liverpool we are striving for all businesses to reach the highest standards and the majority of businesses are in the top tiers of the ratings – with the number going up all the time and the new system has prompted considerable improvements.
“Of course, there are a handful of premises where the hygiene standards leave a lot to be desired and not only will we take action against them but we are quite prepared to name and shame them. It is only right however, that we should recognise the majority of businesses which have very good standards of cleanliness and food preparations and which are a credit to the city.”
Food businesses are inspected by environmental health officers who base their ratings on
• How hygienically food is handled –its preparations, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage
• The condition of premises– their cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities
• How the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe
If the top rating is not given, the business will be advised what improvements need to be made and what action they can take to improve their rating.
Businesses are encouraged to display certificates and stickers showing their rating so that customers can see them.