Substandard Food Hygiene in Wales22nd March 2011
More than 50 food premises serving food to vulnerable people have substandard food hygiene ratings according to a report published today by watchdog Consumer Focus Wales.
The E.coli O157 second progress report shows that nurseries, schools, colleges, care premises and hospitals in Wales require major food hygiene improvements. Since the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme started in October 2010, 24 schools and colleges in Wales inspected for food hygiene were rated two or below, while 30 caring premises and three hospitals also had facilities with similarly poor ratings. This means that they were generally non-compliant with some aspect of food hygiene law.
Consumer Focus Wales is calling for greater transparency among local authorities, demanding the Food Standard Agency authorise and encourage local authorities to make full inspection reports available for the public to download on the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme website. It is also calling on the Welsh Assembly to use its new powers to introduce an Act to require food businesses to display hygiene ratings on business premises.
Maria Battle, Senior Director of Consumer Focus Wales, said: "The greatest tool for improving food hygiene is openness to public scrutiny by making businesses display their food hygiene ratings on the premises. What greater incentive for food producers than knowing their rating will be public and their failings will no longer be hidden? In the real world we don't always check on line before we eat."
"The fact that the vast majority of establishments serving food to vulnerable groups are achieving high ratings makes it all the more difficult to understand why a small number are rated so poorly."
"In some cases we have had difficulties obtaining full inspection reports in order to learn the reasons behind these poor ratings. Some local authorities have refused to release reports for food businesses if there is even the slightest chance that the business could face legal action in future."
"Consumer Focus Wales believes there is a strong public interest in learning the reasons why premises serving food to vulnerable groups are failing to meet statutory requirements for food hygiene. People have a right to know the reasons why the institution they or their loved ones attend may have performed so poorly on food hygiene, and what is being done about it."
The report also highlights the fact that some local authorities in England have taken the step of making all inspection reports available on their websites. These authorities may still hold reports back from publication, but only if it is extremely likely that a prosecution will take place.
Ms Battle added:
"This shows that this level of disclosure is achievable and realistic. The FSA in Wales should enable and encourage local authorities to make full inspection reports available to download on the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme website."
CF Labs, the online arm of Consumer Focus, has created a map showing the locations of schools, colleges and caring premises in Wales that are currently rated two or less by the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. The following link takes you to the map: https://consumerfocus.org.uk/g/4nv
Update (2024): The consumer focus website no longer exists, visit https://ratings.food.gov.uk/ to search for a business hygiene rating.
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