CUSTOMERS will be better informed when eating out in the Horsham District thanks to the introduction of a new scheme.
Horsham District Council has announced the introduction of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme across the district from April 2011.
The new scheme will tell customers about the hygiene standards of all local food outlets.
Eleven local authorities in East and West Sussex made a successful bid for funding from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to introduce the scheme. Brighton and Crawley are already operating similar schemes.
The funding amounts to over £65,000 and covers the cost of setting up the scheme in the county.
This national scheme, developed by the FSA in partnership with local authorities, provides information on food hygiene standards to help people to choose where to eat out or shop for food. Around one million people suffer from food poisoning every year, and the aim in introducing the scheme is to reduce this.
Explaining how the scheme will work, Peter Rowlinson, Cabinet Member for Planning and the Environment at Horsham District Council, said: “Food outlets, such as restaurants, takeaways and pubs, are inspected by food safety officers from the Council’s Environmental Health department, to check that their hygiene standards meet legal requirements.
“The hygiene standards found at these inspections are rated on a scale ranging from zero at the bottom, which means ‘urgent improvement necessary’, to a top rating of five which means ‘very good’.
“Whilst standards are generally good locally, this scheme will help better inform customers and should drive up standards even higher.”
The new ratings will be available from April 2011 for anyone to view on the FSA website at food.gov.uk/ratings and the food business will be given a sticker and certificate and encouraged to display these at the entrance to their premises.
With an additional message for local food businesses, Cllr Rowlinson added: “When customers expect to see a rating, there is a real incentive for food businesses to seek to make improvements to their hygiene standards.
“Even though your premises might be spotlessly clean and in good repair you may still receive a poor rating if you fail to provide a documented food safety management system
“To support local businesses in complying with this legal requirement and in order to achieve a higher rating, Horsham District Council will be offering a low cost training course.”
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health one day level 3 award in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point will enable food business operators and managers to understand the principles of documenting a HACCP system.
The course dates are to be released within the next few months and will be held at Horsham District Council’s offices in Horsham. For further details please contact Lesley Wright on 01403 215615.
More information about food hygiene is available online at www.horsham.gov.uk or by calling Horsham District Council on 01403 215421.