The head of the Food Standard Agency in England, who is in charge of Local Delivery Division, has said that the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme will become compulsory in England in the next few years. The scheme which rates the hygiene standards of food businesses in the UK is already compulsory in Wales and Northern Ireland and England is now expected to follow suit with a compulsory food hygiene scheme.
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, also referred to as the “scores on doors” was originally intended to be a voluntary scheme where food businesses could rate their hygiene standard. The scheme has however been made compulsory in Wales and will be made mandatory in Northern Ireland according to John Barnes who made this announcement at the Food Manufacture Group’s Conference held in Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire. The scheme will be made mandatory in England after seeing how it works in the above mentioned regions.
The plan for now is to leave the policy as a voluntary scheme but encourage business owners in the food sector in London to display their rating, especially if their hygiene rating is anything between a three and a five. This seems to be working with current compliance levels showing a significant increase with business owners putting more efforts to drive their hygiene standards up the scale. While it is clear that making the scheme mandatory will help push the hygiene standards even further up, it is not clear when the scheme will be made mandatory in England, though it features on the draft 2015-20 strategy.
There are about 400,000 businesses that are currently making use of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and this number is expected to go up. Barnes makes it clear that the aim of the scheme is to promote high hygiene standards as customers will be more inclined to go for establishments with high hygiene standards. The scheme also aims to increase transparency in all food related businesses.