Scores on the Doors – Food Hygiene FAQs
Answers to frequently asked questions about Scores on the Doors.
What are Scores on the Doors schemes?
Local authority enforcement officers are responsible for inspecting food businesses to ensure they meet the legal requirements on food hygiene. Under the Scores on the Doors schemes, each food outlet is given a hygiene rating or score that reflects the inspection findings and may display this in their premises where consumers can see it.
Scores are also available via websites where consumers can see the scores for all the participating businesses in the local area.
What is the purpose of Scores on the Doors schemes?
The primary purpose of these ‘scores on the doors’ schemes is to allow consumers to make informed choices about the places in which they eat out and from which they purchase food, and through this, to encourage businesses to improve hygiene standards.
What exactly do Scores on the Doors schemes assess?
Scores on the doors schemes are designed to rate standards against legal requirements on food hygiene – these are set at European Union level.
The standards are assessed as part of the inspection process.
How do scores on the doors schemes differ from hygiene awards?
Scores on the doors schemes should be designed so that the top score represents ‘full compliance’ with the legal requirements of food hygiene legislation.
In contrast, hygiene award schemes are designed to recognise businesses that have achieved standards of hygiene over and above the legal requirements. Such schemes can be compatible with, and run along side, scores on the doors schemes.
Why is the Agency developing a national scheme
At the moment, more than 200 local authorities across the UK have Scores on the Doors schemes in place.
These schemes vary in their design and the way they are operated, so the Agency is working towards a national approach to avoid further proliferation of different arrangements in different areas, and so ensure consistency for consumers and clarity for businesses.
Why is a six-tier scheme being developed?
Following a public consultation during the summer of 2008, the Agency’s Board decided that a six-tier scheme should be established in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as the majority of schemes already operating in these countries are based on this design. A two-tier scheme will continue in Scotland in line with the prevailing views of stakeholders there.
Will it be mandatory for local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to operate the national scheme?
No. This would require new legislation.
The Agency is, however, conscious that local authority support of the scheme is critical to its success and is committed to working with them on developing a robust and effective support package (including guidance, training and IT assistance).
The Agency will also be working with the Local Government Association, the Local Authorities Co-ordinators for Regulatory Services, and with the Local Better Regulation Office, to encourage local authorities to recognise the benefits to consumers of having a single national scheme and to adopt the new scheme in their area.
Will it be mandatory for businesses to display the score at their premises?
No. Again, this would require new legislation.
We consider that through the planned national promotional campaigns, we will increase consumer awareness, such that they will make their own judgements about a business failing to display its score.
We believe that this will encourage businesses to display scores. We do, however, propose to keep this voluntary approach under review.
When will the national scheme be launched?
A stakeholder group (which includes consumer representatives) has been set up to oversee development of the national scheme.
It is hoped that the detail of all elements of this will be agreed by June 2010, but a phased approach to the work should facilitate earlier introduction of schemes based on the national model.
In association with FSA. For more information visit the Food Standards Agency’s Hygiene Resources.
1st February 2010