Monday 10 March 2014
Consumers will soon be able to make informed choices about where they eat and shop for food locally. Since October 2013, Environmental Health Officers have been giving food businesses a hygiene score at inspections and on 10 March 2014 the 'scores on the doors' rating scheme will be officially launched. It is anticipated that all remaining eligible premises will be rated by the end of the year.
Mark Dorey, Health and Social Services Department (HSSD) Minister said:
"The HSSD Board recognises the benefits of good hygiene in reducing the risks of ill health and fully supports this initiative. The drive to satisfy customers with good 'Scores on the doors' provides an excellent incentive for businesses to achieve the required standards. This reduces the need for involvement by Environmental Health Officers. A good reputation for tasty food does not always equate to a good standard of hygiene and now everyone will be able to see how well businesses perform."
Tobin Cook, Deputy Chief Environmental Health Officer, commented that:
"A similar scheme has been in place in the UK for a few years and has proved highly popular with consumers as they can make informed choices about where to eat. Through publication of current star ratings and the display of the star stickers it is anticipated that this information will encourage very good standards of hygiene in all food businesses. The recently published list demonstrates that high standards of food hygiene can, and should, be achieved by all food businesses regardless of their type or size".
Whilst it is not currently mandatory for businesses to display the star rating sticker, all businesses will be provided with a sticker (including those stating that the premises are exempt or awaiting rating) and current ratings will also be published on www.gov.gg/fhis. This will ensure that the public can readily access information and may draw their own conclusions if a star rating sticker is not being displayed. The published list will be regularly updated as additional premises are rated and to reflect any changes to businesses that have already been rated. All premises that are in the scheme should be rated by the end of the year.
Which Businesses Are Given A Hygiene Rating?
- Restaurants, takeaways, cafes, sandwich shops, pubs, hotels, supermarkets and other retail food outlets, as well as any other business where consumers can eat or buy food, will be scored for hygiene
- Businesses will be given a star sticker that they will be asked to display and the Office of Environmental Health and Pollution Regulation will also have a current list of rated businesses available on the States of Guernsey website (www.gov.gg/fhis)
- Some low risk businesses will be exempt from the scheme but are still inspected and must comply with food law.
How Is The Star Rating Calculated?
Following an unannounced visit, officers will give a score for the standard of hygiene found at that time. This includes a review of:
- How hygienically the food is handled - safe food preparation and procedures including cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage
- The condition of the structure of the premises - cleanliness, repair, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities
- How food safety is managed and documented - using systems such as 'Safer Food Better Business' or equivalent methods. Also premises history and confidence in management to improve and maintain standards is taken in to account.
Will All Businesses Get A Star Sticker?
- Distinctive green and gold star rating stickers are being distributed to all food premises within the Bailiwick, except for some low risk and / or home-based caterers
- Businesses considered to be low risk, e.g. those who do not prepare high risk foods such as sandwiches will be issued an 'exempt' sticker
- Star ratings are issued at routine inspections. Some businesses have not yet received an inspection since the scheme began so they will display an 'awaiting rating' sticker until the visit has been done.
What Do The Ratings Mean?
- Where 'urgent improvement' is necessary a zero star rating is given
- One star is when 'major improvement' is necessary
- When 'improvement is needed' two stars are issued
- 'Generally satisfactory' businesses receive a three star rating
- A four star rating is for 'good' businesses
- Businesses fully complying with Guernsey food law receive the top rating of five stars which is described as 'very good'.
What Happens If A Business Fails Their Inspection?
There is no pass or fail, but following an inspection Officers ensure proportionate remedial action is taken. Most businesses are receptive and keen to improve so only need written advice. Where businesses fail to improve after warnings, enforcement notices may be served and if these are not complied with legal action may be necessary. In a few cases where totally unacceptable practices and conditions are discovered businesses have to close until improvements are made.
Should I Only Shop Or Eat At Five Star Businesses?
Businesses that do not achieve at least three stars at their inspection will be targeted for improvement and will receive extra visits by Officers. The Food Hygiene Information Scheme intends to provide consumers with information about the hygiene standards found at the most recent visit. Standards may improve or slip between inspections but all businesses can achieve five stars as this reflects full compliance with Guernsey hygiene laws. As all businesses are issued with a sticker consumers may draw their own conclusions if a sticker is not displayed outside or in the business. Consumers may also view a full list of rated premises on the States of Guernsey website (www.gov.gg/fhis).