A £5,000 fine for the owner of a Welsh restaurant who failed to display his two-star food hygiene rating could be a sign of things to come if the Food Standards Agency (FSA) succeeds in making ‘scores on the doors’ displays compulsory in England.
At the moment, displaying a food hygiene rating is compulsory in Wales and Northern Ireland – it must be visible close to the entrance where customers can easily read it before they go in. Businesses in England do not currently have to display their rating at their premises but are encouraged to do so. Darren Beddis, owner of Brook Bistro on Merthyr Road, Whitchurch, appearing at Cardiff magistrates’ court, admitted six charges relating to the failure to display the sticker without reasonable excuse. He told FSA and council officers that “he was protecting his business by not displaying the food hygiene rating.”
The court heard that he had been asked to display the sticker several times – at first it was not displayed at all and twice it was hidden by outdoor furniture.
A change in the law will be needed if mandatory display of a food hygiene rating is pursued – the FSA have said that they want to bring the situation in England in line with Wales and Northern Ireland.
Laura Shirley, food safety specialist in Harrison Clark Rickerbys’ regulatory team, said: “Although displaying the rating isn’t yet compulsory in England, proposals to make this mandatory make complete sense – consumers are entitled to know whether a business has good food hygiene standards and make informed choices about where to buy or eat food..
“The scheme gives business a rating from 5 to 0. Five is top of the scale and means that the hygiene standards are very good and fully comply with the law. Zero is at the bottom of the scale and means that urgent improvement is necessary. If a business owner isn’t happy with their rating, they can challenge it, including requesting a re-inspection to demonstrate how standards have improved.”