Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), has reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to introducing the mandatory display of food hygiene ratings in England. This follows the successful introduction of legislation in Wales and Northern Ireland that requires food businesses to display their ratings.

Heather Hancock said:

“The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) is now in place throughout England. It’s an easy way for consumers and businesses to understand how well they meet hygiene rules, keeping us all safe.

"In Wales and in Northern Ireland, businesses are already obliged to display their hygiene rating. We have sound evidence of the difference that mandatory display makes. People vote with their feet, because it’s easy to choose food outlets that are taking food hygiene seriously. That means good food businesses benefit from more custom. And it’s an incentive for businesses with poorer standards to improve.

“We welcome and agree with the recent comments from the Local Government Association calling for the same benefits to be realised from the scheme in England. That will mean introducing mandatory display of food hygiene ratings here and that has already been identified as an essential part of the wider improvements we are making to the regulatory system.”

Raising standards

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) was launched in November 2010 and is established in all local authorities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is an FSA and local authority partnership initiative which provides consumers with information about hygiene standards in food premises, based on inspections carried out by local authority food safety officers.

Evaluation of FHRS has shown that the introduction of mandatory display in Wales resulted in significantly increased business compliance with hygiene standards. The findings also showed a greater reduction in the proportion of ‘poorly compliant’ businesses.