MANSFIELD residents should find it easier deciding where to eat out or buy a takeaway following the introduction of a new national food hygiene scheme in the town.
Council chiefs have replaced their own Scores on the Doors system with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) initiative.
It helps people to choose where to eat by providing a score of how hygienic each business is.
Almost 200 Councils have already joined up, making it easier for people to recognise the ratings at food outlets across the country.
Coun Mick Barton, Mansfield District Council’s portfolio holder for public protection, said: “We have been operating our own food hygiene rating scheme in Mansfield for a number of years.
“But by joining this national scheme it will bring us in line with many other local authorities across the country – making the ratings consistent and recognisable.
“The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme allows people to make an informed choice when deciding where to buy their food from.
“It will also help food businesses as the scheme rewards the efforts of businesses with high standards of hygiene and encourages businesses with poor standards of hygiene to improve.”
Under the scheme, local authorities will still be responsible for carrying out inspections and Food Hygiene Ratings will be given to businesses on each occasion.
Officers will check how hygienically food is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored; the cleanliness, layout, lighting and ventilation within the buildings and how the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe.
Hygiene standards found at the time of inspection are then rated on a scale.
At the bottom of the scale is ‘0’ – which means urgent improvement is required. While at the top of the scale is ‘5’ – meaning the hygiene standards are very good.
Ratings are given to places where you can eat out such as restaurants, takeaways, cafés, sandwich shops, pubs, and hotels. They are also given to schools, hospitals, residential care homes, supermarkets and delicatessens.
Each of the inspection results will be published on the council’s website and businesses will be given a certificate and window sticker to display on their premises.
Catriona Stewart, head of the Food Hygiene Ratings Team at the FSA, said having a single nationwide scheme will mean a ‘level playing field’ for businesses and allow consumers to make judgements on where to eat wherever they are in the country.