Food poisoning and the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme
Around a million people suffer from food poisoning in Britain every year but Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, in the south east of England, has entered into a scheme to reduce this number.
The council is one of many which are beginning to use the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, a national system which has been developed by the Food Standards Agency in partnership with local authorities.
The scheme means that all retail and catering outlets selling or preparing food for the public are checked by the local council's Food and Safety Team and given a rating.
The rating does not take into account the standard of service given to the customers or the quality of the food being sold or prepared – it reflects solely the state of the outlet's food hygiene standards.
Outlets are rated from zero, which means that the food hygiene is very poor, to five, which means that standards are very good.
All the ratings are available to view on the Food Standards Agency website but the shops and restaurants are encouraged to put a notice of their rating up at the entrance to their building, so that potential customers can see it as they browse which outlets are available to them.
The hope is that outlets which have a low score will improve their food hygiene standards, and so reduce the risk of future customers suffering food poisoning and having to make a compensation claim.