Hygiene ratings to be visible when eating out

Consumers will soon be better informed when eating out in Larne, thanks to the introduction of a new scheme telling them about the hygiene standards of food outlets.

Larne Borough Council has announced the introduction of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) across the borough from June.

This national programme, developed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in partnership with local authorities, provides information on food hygiene standards to help people to choose where to eat out or shop for food.

Food outlets, such as restaurants, takeaways and pubs, are inspected by food safety officers from Larne 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 or via a link form Larne Borough Councils website and the food business will be given a sticker and certificate and encouraged to display these at the entrance to their premises. This means that their customers can easily see them and decide if they want to go in.

Geraldine McGahey, chief executive of Larne Council said: “We have joined the FHRS as we can see the benefits for local food businesses and the people that eat and shop in them. The public will be able to use the ratings when deciding which outlets to visit and we hope that food companies will recognise that displaying a good hygiene rating is good for business. When customers expect to see a rating, there is a real incentive for food businesses to seek to make improvements to their hygiene standards.”

Catriona Stewart, head of the Food Hygiene Ratings Team at the FSA said: “We are encouraging as many local authorities as possible to run the FHRS, so it’s great news that Larne Borough Council have announced their intention to use it. Around one million people suffer from food poisoning every year, and our aim in introducing the scheme is to reduce this. The ratings will give consumers a glimpse of what is going on in the kitchen when they eat out, or behind the scenes at the places they shop, before they make their decision about which place they prefer to visit.”