‘Look before you book’ this Christmas

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Thursday, December 11th, 2014
Business, Community
Thinking of eating out this Christmas? If you’re planning that special Christmas meal with work colleagues, friends or family the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in partnership with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) would like to remind you to ‘look before you book’.

Pictured dining alfresco, encouraging people to ‘look before you book’ this Christmas is Michael Jackson from the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland with Elaine Groves from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board

Christmas is a time to enjoy good company and good food without worrying about food poisoning. But the truth is, you can’t tell a restaurant’s hygiene standards by how clean and tidy the staff look or by how busy it is. It’s the things you can’t see – like germs spread by bad hygiene practices – that you need to consider. There’s one easy way to put your mind at rest – check the food hygiene rating. Although 60% of people here said cleanliness and hygiene were significant factors when they were booking a meal out or buying food in – only 28% reported checking a hygiene rating when choosing somewhere to eat. The food hygiene rating tells you about hygiene standards in restaurants and other food businesses. It’s really easy to check. Just go online and check the Food Standards Agency website: www.food.gov.uk/ratings or if you’re out and about check for the green and black sticker; if you can’t see one, just ask. The ratings are determined by local council food safety officers and run from 0-5, with a 5 rating meaning a very good level of food hygiene. 93% of food businesses in Northern Ireland are rated 3 or better so there are plenty of places with good standards and you can easily avoid taking your family to those not meeting the grade. If you don’t see a green and black sticker in the window or you spot a low rating online, you can make a better informed choice. Elaine Groves, Naturally NI Development Officer, from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board stated, “We’re keen to support the Food Standards Agency, a good food hygiene rating is something to be proud of and a good tool to support local food businesses at this crucial time of the year. “We’ll be championing the ‘look before you book’ campaign to ensure everyone out enjoying themselves this festive season can make informed choices about where they choose to eat.” Michael Jackson, Head of Local Authority Policy and Delivery, Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland, agrees, “Food hygiene isn’t something that is obvious and no-one wants to gamble with their health when enjoying a special festive meal. “We want to encourage people to check the food hygiene rating before eating out. A good rating can provide peace of mind that your meal has been hygienically and safely prepared.” For more information, visit www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/caterers/hygieneratings
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