Following successful trials of requested re-inspection charges by some local authorities in England, the FSA has rolled the programme out across the board to help councils recover costs.
Re-inspections can be requested by pubs if they receive a FHRS rating lower than desired.
However, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ (ALMR) chief executive Kate Nicholls warned the fees must only apply to re-inspections and not routine inspections.
Streamlining the process
“The introduction of fees for inspections can help streamline the process for businesses, but local authorities must ensure that fees only apply to re-inspections requested by a venue and not routine inspections,” she said.
“Venues on the receiving end of a low hygiene rating can take positive steps to address any problems and often find themselves under completely new management with new systems in place.
“It is, therefore, right that businesses should be permitted an opportunity to achieve a higher rating without having to wait through an arbitrary period which may damage their reputation and businesses.
“The ALMR has been working with Hortec, the European umbrella for hospitality associations, to prevent the imposition of fees for routing inspections. As long as these fees remain voluntary then this should be a positive step for closer working between venues and councils.”
The FSA has already outlined the rules that local authorities must abide by if they charge food businesses for a re-inspection.
Head of the FSA’s food hygiene rating team Angela Towers explained that the decision for local authorities to charge for requested re-inspections was up to them.
Cost recovery basis
She added: “These powers allow for fees on a cost recovery basis only and it is for each local authority to calculate their own costs.”
Last week the FSA Board said it would ramp up its food safety controls, including safeguards for allergen protections.
The announcement stamped out rumours the FSA was looking to impose self-regulation.
Chairman Heather Hancock said: “Our ambition in doing this is not to loosen the reins. This is about our ownership, maintenance and driving forward of food standards and public protection.”