Food Hygiene Ratings

06 June 2011

Councils across Northern Ireland launched the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) on 6th June, designed to inform people about the food hygiene ratings of local food outlets.

The FHRS is operated by the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland in partnership with 17 district councils throughout the region. Under the scheme, food businesses are 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.

It replaces the old Scores on the Doors schemes run by various Councils.

The Federation recognises the importance of schemes such as these but feels that more information should be provided to the customer. It is our understanding that a premises can be marked down simply due to problems with the fabric of the building which have little to do with food safety. A malfunctioning light or broken fixture can result in a low score even though the food hygiene is perfect.

The current average score is made up of:

- how hygienically the food is handled - how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored.
- the condition of the structure of the buildings - the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities.
- how the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe

The old system at least displayed these three separate scores so that customers were better informed. The new scheme does not provide this information and the only way for a customer to know is by requesting it under a Freedom of Information request!

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