Five Star Food Takes On New Meaning

As 'Scores on the Doors' reveal hygiene standards in local restaurants

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Residents visiting local restaurants, pubs and cafes will soon be able to find out a business’s official hygiene rating on the internet.

Whilst a number of local authorities, including Hammersmith & Fulham, have already introduced the ‘Scores on the Doors’ scheme which involves publishing the hygiene rating of inspected food premises on their website, others have not been as proficient.

A spokesperson for Ealing Council said “Ealing is part of the Londonwide FSA supported pilot scheme for publishing food safety inspection information of the food businesses in Ealing.

“We had intended to launch, with publishing information on the 11th June, in line with the project and other London authorities, however, due to technical difficulties we have not been able to. We will launch as soon as the problems are sorted out.

“Ealing is committed to the scheme, and will be working closely with our partners to ensure that the information will be accessible.”

Hounslow Council is in a similar position citing technical issues as the reason for the delay. A spokesperson said "We haven't been given a new date yet. We hope to have some information up on the website in the next few weeks, with the full scheme up and running as soon as possible."

The Scores on the Doors scheme involves the introduction of a star rating of between none and five by the environmental health teams of the local authorities. No stars for a business would represent poor standards, while 5 stars would be excellent. Restaurants will be rated on factors like food hygiene and handling practices, management and how structured the place is meaning before heading out to eat, diners will be able to check their destination - by restaurant name, by area and, eventually, by cuisine type.

Traditionally, some councils have argued that disclosure could damage the commercial prospects of restaurant owners whilst others welcome the openness claiming "The public has a right to know what health inspections discover. Well-run restaurants have nothing to fear - and much to gain - from public scrutiny. Publishing inspection reports will put pressure on restaurants to raise their standards."

The Freedom of Information Act, which came into force at the beginning of 2005 with exemptions relating to Public Security, Privacy of the Individual, etc, is to give citizens the right to access information held by Public Authorities unless this can be shown not to be in the Public interest.

June 15, 2007