From Zero to Five Star In One Go
Local restaurant's case highlights flaws in Scores on the Doors scheme
Flaws in the government's 'Scores on the Doors' scheme have been highlighted by the case of one Chiswick restaurant.
The highly regarded Italian Caffe Piccolo was originally given a zero rating when the scheme was launched at the end of 2007. However, after a second inspection and with minimal adjustments the score rose to the top of the scale when the restaurant was rated five star.
Caffe Piccolo's case goes to show that diners should bear in mind that the scores apply to the time of the last inspection only, so the rating is simply a snapshot in time and may not represent current conditions at the business.
However, with the Government considering the compulsory displaying of ratings, glitches in the system could cost restaurants dearly. We asked a few locals if they would consider eating in a restaurant that had been given a poor hygiene rating. Unsurprisingly most wouldn't.
The Scores on the Doors website states that:
Food premises may only be inspected every 6 - 36 months as specified in the Food Standards Agency's Code of Practice. The hygiene rating given to premises is based on the latest Primary Inspection carried out and as such represents the situation as found by the officer on the day of that inspection. Therefore the score may not be representative of the overall, long-term food hygiene standards of the business and should not be relied upon as a guide to food safety risk or food quality.
What if a business disagrees with the rating?
The rating is based on a professional officer's inspection and will not be changed. However, if a business believes that it has not been treated fairly the council's formal complaints procedure can be used and the matter fully investigated. If the business feels that standards have improved since the inspection they have 14 days to submit comments or mitigation for the standards found, which will then appear on the website. If improved standards are maintained the rating is likely to be changed at the next food safety inspection
Can the star rating be changed?
Yes, but only when a food hygiene inspection is undertaken. A food hygiene inspection will only take place when it is due as part of an agreed programme. An inspection may take place if the business ownership changes or if serious breaches of food legislation are found during a routine visit or through investigating a complaint. If the business feels that standards have improved since the inspection they have 14 days to submit comments or mitigation for the standards found, which will then appear on the website. If improved standards are maintained the rating is likely to be changed at the next food safety inspection.
How often will the rating change?
As soon as a new food safety inspection has been carried out. The inspection due date depends on when the business was last inspected and the hygiene conditions found at the time. The worst performing businesses are inspected more often than the better performing businesses. An inspection can take place anytime between 6 months and three years depending on its safety risk.
January 18, 2008