Health Minister introduces Food Hygiene Rating Bill | Latest Newry News, Newry Sport and Newry Business for Newry City

Health Minister introduces Food Hygiene Rating Bill

Health Minister Jim Wells has introduced the Food Hygiene Rating Bill to the Assembly.

The bill will, if passed, make it compulsory for Northern Ireland food businesses to display their hygiene ratings under the ‘Food Hygiene Rating Scheme’ (FHRS).

The current, voluntary scheme, which has been operating here since 2011, gives consumers a, ‘behind the scenes look’ at food outlets, so that they can check hygiene standards when eating out or buying food in.

Under the new proposals, businesses such as restaurants, takeaways and supermarkets, would not be asked to undergo any additional hygiene inspections but under the terms of the new bill, would be required to prominently display their food hygiene ratings at their premises.

Speaking in the Assembly yesterday, Mr Wells said, “Good food hygiene is essential for the protection of public health.

“I anticipate that The Food Hygiene Rating Bill will help improve food hygiene standards in eateries across Northern Ireland and introduce a simple but effective way of helping consumers to make better choices ‘at a glance’ when buying food.”

Michael Jackson, Head of Local Authority Policy & Delivery, Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland said: “Our research shows that consumers make decisions about where to eat quickly, and they tell us that the best way to influence them is to be able to see the FHRS rating on the premises before they go in or make a decision about eating there.

“We also know that only 40% of businesses currently display their rating where it can be viewed from outside. Our view is that if the bill makes it compulsory for food businesses to display their ratings, then it will allow consumers to make better choices and will also encourage food businesses to comply with hygiene requirements.”

The green and black FHRS sticker, with ratings numbered 0 to 5, is now recognised by 83% of consumers across Northern Ireland. The rating 0 means urgent improvement is necessary whilst 5 means hygiene standards are very good.

The ratings are based on a number of criteria including how hygienically food is prepared, cooked, cooled and stored; the condition and cleanliness of the premises and the procedures in place to ensure the production of safe food.

Businesses can appeal against their rating if they consider it does not reflect the hygiene standards at the time of the inspection. They will also be able to request and pay for a re-rating inspection if they have carried out improvements.

All of the inspections are carried out by food safety officers from district councils and the frequency of inspection of each business is based on an assessment of risk to the consumer.

Under the bill, there would be a new requirement for food businesses to give their rating verbally if asked and it would make it an offence not to do so. This would allow those with a visual impairment or anyone phoning a restaurant or takeaway to find out a hygiene rating before booking or ordering.

The new legislation also proposes the introduction of fixed penalty notices for offences such as the non-display of ratings. There are also powers to prosecute with a proposed maximum fine of £1,000.

More on this story:

Are you eating out in Newry? Check before you choose!

Newry Council celebrates first anniversary of Food Hygiene Ratings

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Posted by on Nov 5 2014. Filed under Business, Community, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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