The revelation follows reports in the MA last month that Mitchells & Butlers was working with the FSA to develop a simpler method of implementing and policing the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS), to ease pressure on resource-strapped local authorities.
Food businesses in Wales have displayed hygiene ratings by law for three years, while the rule change was implemented in Northern Ireland on 7 October this year.
Currently, food pubs and other food businesses in England do not have to display hygiene ratings, a system that ranks a business’s food safety on a scale of zero to five – zero being the poorest score.
Extending mandatory display
However, the FSA “favoured” extending the mandatory display of ratings at food outlets to England too, said an FSA spokeswoman.
“We consider that this will be better for consumers, will support businesses that achieve good standards and will be an added incentive for those businesses with poorer standards to improve.”
A strong case to implement the rule change in England was being compiled from Wales and the FSA was exploring how the statutory scheme could be implemented in England.
Evidence of the mandatory scheme’s success in Wales would be ready to show members of parliament by the end of this year, the MA understands.
“Once presented to ministers, and approved, it would need to go through the legislative process including consultation with businesses and consumers,” the spokeswoman added.
“In Northern Ireland, this took around two years, so we could expect a similar process in England. We expect to present the case sometime in 2017.”
Meanwhile, the MA revealed last month that the FSA was working with pub chain Mitchells & Butlers to make the FHRS easier to police, as part of the FSA’s ‘Regulating our Future’ initiative.
The focus of the project, which encompasses changes to the scores on the doors scheme, is to ensure safe and legal food-producing methods are used in the UK and to allow customers to read food hygiene in a simpler way.
In a FSA board meeting about the programme, members said: “This programme will ensure a tailored and proportionate approach to regulation to ensure business compliance.
“One of the compelling drivers for designing a new regulatory system is the uncertain and rapidly changing world in which we operate, and its consequences for food safety and standards.”