Pubs in Wales and Northern Ireland are already legally required to display their ratings.
English food businesses, however, do not have to display their ratings, with few low scorers doing so.
According to the Local Government Association (LGA), council leaders have said that current EU laws regulating food safety are vital to improve standards and reduce the risk of people eating unsafe food cooked in dirty kitchens. The LGA said the laws are good and need to be kept after Brexit.
But, the association wants the Government to see Brexit as an opportunity to strengthen these food safety laws and empower councils by legally extending the mandatory display of ‘Scores on the Doors’ to England.
This would improve customer confidence, raise standards and reduce the need for and cost of, enforcement action by councils.
Scores on the Doors
Food hygiene rating scheme:
5 = very good
4 = good
3 = generally satisfactory
2 = improvement necessary
1 = major improvement necessary
0 = urgent improvement necessary
The LGA has said businesses, including pubs, failing to comply with the legislation should be fined or prosecuted.
The association’s safer and stronger communities board chair Simon Blackburn said: “We believe that food-hygiene laws need to be strengthened, where necessary, with ‘Scores on the Doors’ ratings being a good area of opportunity to do this.
“This mandatory hygiene-rating display is already in force in Wales and Northern Ireland, and the UK leaving the EU provides a crucial opportunity to toughen up food-safety laws by extending the legislation to England as well.
“Food-hygiene standards and compliance levels have risen since the scheme was introduced in Wales.”
He added venues not having a hygiene rating sticker means customers are left in the dark on official kitchen cleanliness levels when eating or buying food.
Rogue food premises
Food hygiene in numbers:
43% of food businesses in England put up a score
In London, this figure was 32%
For businesses with a low rating (between 0 and two), the figure dropped to 12% across England and 9% in London.
According to a survey carried out for the Food Standards Agency in 2012
Since the mandatory scheme was introduced in Wales in 2013:
Food hygiene standards have risen, according to the FSA
More than 95% of food businesses in Wales now have a rating of three or higher
Blackburn said: “A food-hygiene rating distinguishes between appearance and reality. A food outlet may have nice décor but that doesn’t meant that hygiene standards are good enough to avoid being served a ‘dodgy’ burger or salad that could pose a serious risk to someone’s health.
“Councils have seen some shocking examples of poor or dangerous hygiene and always take action to improve standards at rogue food premises.
“Making the display of hygiene ratings compulsory in England is good for business. Not only would it incentivise food outlets to improve or maintain high hygiene standards, which would reduce the risk of illness for customers, it would also improve consumer confidence and save tax payers’ money by reducing the need for and cost of, enforcement action by councils.”
Meanwhile, earlier this year (July), the owners of an Essex pub were fined more than £42,000 and stopped from selling food after rats were found nesting under the fridge in its kitchen, following a prosecution by Chelmsford City Council.
Conditions in the kitchen at the Red Lion, in Chelmsford, were described by one inspector as “one of the worst that I have seen in my 30-year career”.
The pub was shut down and one of the directors banned indefinitely from managing any food business.