New food hygiene scheme to be rolled out in Uttlesford
A NEW scheme to highlight hygiene standards at food outlets is being introduced in Uttlesford.
Customers will soon be able to source better information before dining out when Uttlesford District Council roles out the Food Hygiene Rating System (FHRS) from Monday.
The national scheme, developed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), provides information on food hygiene standards to help people to choose where to eat out or shop for food.
Food outlets are inspected by food safety officers from the council, to check that their standards – which are rated from zero (‘urgent improvement needed’) to five (‘very good’) - meet legal requirements.
And it is not just restaurants that are inspected - retailers such as supermarkets, bakers, butchers, delis and takeaways are also included.
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The ratings are calculated on three criteria – how hygienically the food is handled, the condition of the premises including cleanliness, ventilation and layout, and how food safety is managed and documented.
Head of environmental health at the council Geoff Smith said: “We have joined the scheme as we can see the benefits for local food businesses and the people that eat and shop in them.
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“The public will be able to use the ratings when deciding which outlets to visit and we hope that food companies will recognise that displaying a good hygiene rating is good for business.
“When customers expect to see a rating, there is a real incentive for food businesses to seek to make improvements to their hygiene standards.”
Leader of the council Cllr Jim Ketteridge said: “This is a good thing for consumers in the district and will give them confidence that the place from where they are buying their food is up to scratch on health and hygiene.”
One of the top-scoring establishments in the Reporter area is The Crown House Hotel in Great Chesterford, which scored a maximum five out of five.
Head chef Jamie Marshall and front of house manager Tina Szajewski stepped up to manage the venue in August.
The council estimates that at the time they took over management of the business, its food hygiene would have been rated two stars under the scheme. Now though, it has scored the maximum five stars.
Mr Marshall said: “We gutted the kitchen, installed new appliances and took everything on board from the previous inspection, making sure we addressed all the issues raised.
“Food hygiene is of paramount importance for customers and at the Crown House we strive to go that one step further.”
The ratings for all 450 food businesses will be available for anyone to view on the FSA website at food.gov.uk/ratings and the food business will be given a sticker and certificate and encouraged to display these at the entrance to their premises.
This means that their customers can easily see them and decide if they want to go in.