Hygiene ratings give consumers food for thought

Environmental Health Officers James O'Kane, Danna Hassan, Lara Nelson and Colin Kelly joined Clifford Todd (third from left), NBC Environmental Health Manager, Michael Jackson (centre), Head of Food Safety and Operations at the FSA, and Mayor Victor Robinson (third from right) at the launch of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. INNT 26-125CON
Environmental Health Officers James O'Kane, Danna Hassan, Lara Nelson and Colin Kelly joined Clifford Todd (third from left), NBC Environmental Health Manager, Michael Jackson (centre), Head of Food Safety and Operations at the FSA, and Mayor Victor Robinson (third from right) at the launch of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. INNT 26-125CON
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NEWTOWNABBEY Borough Council was one of seven local authorities from across Northern Ireland to launch the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme this week.

Representatives from several district councils gathered at Mossley Mill on Monday, June 25 for the official launch, which was attended by local Environmental Health Officers, council management and Mayor Victor Robinson.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, operated by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in partnership with local councils, rates the food hygiene standards of thousands of local businesses (549 in Newtownabbey) where people can eat or buy food, from cafes and restaurants to supermarkets and delis. Businesses are being 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.

A total of 24 district councils now operate the scheme, and by the end of this year all Northern Ireland councils will have joined. This means that no matter where consumers eat out or buy food, they will be able to go online to food.gov.uk/ratings and check the business’s food hygiene rating.

Speaking at the launch event, Gerry McCurdy, NI Director of the Food Standards Agency, said: “The councils clearly recognise the value of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and want to help people make informed choices around the purchase of food - wherever they eat or shop. Would-be diners can now check out food hygiene ratings online, and they can also look out for the scheme’s green and black stickers and certificates that many food businesses are proudly displaying in their premises.”

Clifford Todd, Environmental Health Manager for Newtownabbey Borough Council (NBC), added: “The interest from food businesses in Newtownabbey has been exceptional with many recognising that a good food hygiene rating is good for business. The benefits of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme means that local businesses now recognise that they all operate on a level playing field when it comes to environmental health - whilst consumers can now rely on a consistent and transparent approach to food hygiene right across Northern Ireland.

“We would urge consumers to check the ratings regularly as they may change after a business has had a food safety inspection.”

Consumers can check out the food hygiene ratings of local businesses by logging on to www.food.gov.uk/ratings