The Local Government Association (LGA) has called for the extension across England of legislation that is already in place in Wales and Northern Ireland – by which failure to display ‘scores on the doors’ is punishable with fines and prosecution.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Anyone in England who sees a business without a hygiene rating sticker currently has to decide if they want to eat or buy food there without knowing what’s going on in the kitchen.
“It’s not always easy for people to judge hygiene standards simply by walking through the front door of a premise and know whether they are about to be served a ‘dodgy’ burger or kebab that could pose a serious risk to their health.”
If legislation were to be introduced, even high-end gastropubs and restaurants would have to display their ratings.
A spokesperson for the Food Standards Agency said: “We very much favour making [displaying ratings] compulsory in England too, as we believe this will be better for consumers. It will also be better for businesses that achieve good standards as they will get more recognition and it will increase the spotlight on those meeting the grade.”
Research by the FSA last year revealed that many high-end food venues tend to score lower on the whole than some branded pub and restaurant chains.
Operators have argued that this is because it is easier to comply with strict regulations when working from a centralised menu than when utilising many different kinds of fresh ingredients on a regularly-changing one.
Cllr Blackburn said: “A good food-hygiene rating is good for business and people in England should also now be able to use it to decide it they are happy with their choice of food outlet, or would prefer to go somewhere else with higher standards.”