Calls for food outlets to be forced to publicly display hygiene ratings

A ‘scores on the doors’ system to help people distinguish clean food outlets from filthy ones should be introduced in Walsall, it has been claimed.

A rat in the window of Walsall takeaway, spotted by environmental health officers. Photo: Walsall Council
A rat in the window of Walsall takeaway, spotted by environmental health officers. Photo: Walsall Council

Walsall Council bosses said a ratings system where businesses had to publicly show how clean their premises are by displaying how many stars out of five they have would give reassurance to their customers.

They said they would be lobbying ministers and food standards chiefs to implement the scheme as law in England, as it is in Wales and Northern Ireland.

The issue came up at a full council meeting on Monday where Councillor Garry Perry was discussing the authority’s new food law enforcement plan.

Statistics showed 92.9 per cent were satisfactory or above with three, four or five star ratings after inspection.

But there were still more than 100 premises with two, one or zero star ratings and the authority received 383 food hygiene complaints in 2020/21.

Councillor Perry said: “I have a passion for ‘scores on the doors’ and it’s very disappointing to note as yet we still haven’t adopted that as a mandatory requirement when Northern Ireland and Wales have.

“I understand from the Food Standards Agency it is still in their plans to do so but equally I guess they are thinking of the economic effects of doing that.

“The importance of food hygiene can never be underestimated. We know of cases where people have e-coli and salmonella and can end up in hospital.

“In a time when we are living with Covid and we are protecting ourselves and others it is sad to think we are talking about food establishments we’re still having to inspect on a regular basis. Particularly those who fall into the category of zero to three.”

Council leader Mike Bird said: “Here’s an example where we should be lobbying government and where this council can write to ministers to ask them to put this in the legislative procedures of this country.

“To make sure those are on the door so you know, when you get to the front door, the people inside are serving wholesome food that’s not been run over by rats or anything else we’ve found in some of the establishments.”

He added: “Every time I see headlines we’ve closed down a food establishment because of food hygiene you would think I’d think ‘ not another bad story’.

“But it is not. That is one of the good stories. It shows how diligent our officers are and give confidence to the people running clean establishments and making sure people’s health is not at risk by the food they sell.

“We will find you, we will make you clean up your act and if not we will close you down.”

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