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Birmingham licensing chief calls for food hygiene transparency

Head of licensing and public protection committee at city council wants all food outlets to display their own hygiene ratings

Coun Barbara Dring wants greater transparency with food hygiene ratings

All restaurants, takeaways, pubs and cafés should be forced by law to display their food hygiene ratings, according to Birmingham's licensing chief.

Currently food outlets can choose whether or not to display their ratings to customers and generally only those with four or five stars do.

But Barbara Dring, chairman of Birmingham City Council's licensing and public protection committee, is urging the Government to make it compulsory for food sellers to display their rating.

She believes that, by forcing venues to highlight their ratings, it will encourage the minority which are unsafe to improve their standards.

The ratings of every outlet serving prepared food can be found on the Food Standards Agency website and last autumn it revealed that 127 places had been rated zero - the lowest score available meaning they are often filthy, have pest infestations or unsafe food.

Those venues are often closed and can only re-open once cleared by council inspectors while repeat offenders are prosecuted.

Coun Dring (Lab Oscott) said: "There are more than 7,500 food businesses in Birmingham and we want to them not only to be compliant with food law but to encourage them to be better.

"One way to do this would be if it were a legal requirement to display their food business rating on their front door as they do in Wales.

"Currently, the Food Standards Agency's scores on the doors system is voluntary - there's no incentive or compulsion for premises rated 0 or 1 to display their latest rating so I want to see the Government make this a legal requirement for all food businesses.

"This would give consumers more knowledge about food premises and enable them to make better informed decisions on where to go for a meal or get a takeaway from - which would in turn encourage businesses to be more compliant."

Council bosses stress that more than 98 per cent of businesses are operating safely and have previously complained that the zero rated venues can harm the reputation of the city.

Also, many places given a zero rating are cleaned up and reopened within a day or two - but they are branded with the zero rating until the next routine inspection several months later.



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