Express & Star comment: Food for thought on hygiene
The hygiene scores for food shops and catering establishments are a powerful weapon, and one to be feared by those who fail to come up to scratch.
Ask yourself this. Would you want to eat food from somewhere with a rubbish rating? In these days of social media, the bad news spreads like wildfire.
It is enough to put somewhere out of business.
The worst cases, with their accompanying horror stories, are certainly enough to put you off your food.
Our high streets and town centres are changing, and as traditional retail finds the going tough, we are seeing many new eating establishments and takeaways emerging.
Figures from the Food Hygiene Standards Agency are striking for the wide variations they show across our region.
In the five-star system, 18 per cent of establishments in Walsall area are scoring two or below. In South Staffordshire, the figure is just three per cent.
In Shropshire, six per cent are scoring two or below, while in the separate Telford & Wrekin patch things are much worse, at 12 per cent.
All this is information made available to consumers, whose custom makes or breaks businesses.
To be fair to some of the businesses which are perceived to be failing, it should be pointed out that some of them might have been marked down for things which are more important to the hygiene officials than they might be to customers.
These include matters like failing to keep up with relevant paperwork related to hygiene.
It is also important that the ratings system is bang up to date, so that establishments which have scored poorly do not labour any longer under that blight than they need to if they have taken steps to address all the concerns.
It is a minority which will be incapable of turning things around, and if they are incapable of doing that, then there is little reason to have confidence in their cooking or food preparation either.
Customers don’t generally get to see what happens in the kitchens or in the food handling process. All the more reason they need protecting.
The inspections mean that shoddy establishments can’t get away with a “what the customers don’t know, won’t hurt them” mentality.