Newry Council celebrates first anniversary of Food Hygiene Ratings
Newry and Mourne District Council are celebrating the success of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme one year on this week after it emerged that a further seven district councils launched the scheme this week. The scheme is designed to inform people about the food hygiene ratings of local food outlets and rates the food hygiene standards of local businesses where people can eat or buy food, from cafés and restaurants to supermarkets, delis and ice-cream vans.
Under the scheme, food businesses are rated on a scale of zero to five with zero meaning ‘urgent improvement necessary’ and the top rating of five representing a ‘very good’ standard of food hygiene. Although businesses are not legally obliged to show their rating in their window, Northern Ireland has the highest rates of display throughout the UK with half of businesses choosing to display their ratings. Even where a business doesn’t show their rating, consumers can always check them online.
Stephen Cooper, Assistant Director of Environmental Health at Newry and Mourne District Council advised: “Over the past year the interest from food businesses in Newry and Mourne has been exceptional with many recognising that a good food hygiene rating is good for business. 80 percent of food businesses in Newry and Mourne have achieved a rating of four or five out of five. The benefits of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme means that local businesses recognise that they all operate on a level playing field when it comes to environmental health – whilst residents in the area can rely on a consistent and transparent approach to food hygiene right across Northern Ireland.
He added, “All food businesses are subject to regular hygiene inspections by food safety officers and dependent on the results of these, ratings may change so we would urge consumers to check the ratings regularly either by looking out for the sticker or certificate at the premises or by going online.”
Gerald Malone, who owns a number of ice-cream vans in Newry, was awarded the top rating of ‘5’. Speaking to Newry Times, Gerald said the rating was a fantastic way of showing the public how seriously his business takes food hygiene and safety. “I am really pleased to get the top rating, my business is to provide to the local community and I have always offered them the very best service possible.”
Gerald continued, “I work in my ice-cream vans at school sports days, weddings and vintage rallies as well as travelling around housing estates in the Newry and south Armagh area and I believe it is vital to offer an excellent service where the customer’s satisfaction is the main priority. This rating of ‘5’ is the result of a lot of hard work but it confirms that I take food hygiene very seriously indeed.”
William Baird of William Baird Butchers, Newry spoke highly of the scheme and its obvious benefits. “We have found the scheme a real opportunity for food businesses like ours to showcase how seriously we take food hygiene. It’s easy for consumers to use and it has actually brought more business to food outlets like ours who take pride in our rating.”
Graeme Finegan of Grounded spoke to Newry Times about the rating system. “The scores help consumers make an informed decision whether or not the they want to visit a place based upon its score. The important thing is that the establishments strive for perfection. A score of 5 in our (Grounded) opinion isn’t anything to shout about, it should be a five as a matter of course!”
Consumers are urged to check out these ratings at www.food.gov.uk/ratings or simply look out for the striking green and black stickers and certificates inside food businesses.
This article is proudly sponsored by Newry & Mourne District Council.
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