MAGHERAFELT District Council launched the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme this week – bringing the number of district councils who are now operating the scheme up to 25, and by the end of this year all Northern Ireland councils will have joined. This means that no matter where you eat out or buy food, you will be able to go online to food.gov.uk/ratings and check the food hygiene rating.
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is operated by the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland in partnership with district councils.
This year, the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme will rate the food hygiene standards of over 14,000 local businesses where people can eat or buy food, from cafes and restaurants to supermarkets and delis. 350 local businesses in the Magherafelt area will be rated from today as part of the scheme.
Gerry McCurdy, NI Director of the Food Standards Agency, said: “I am delighted to say the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme has been embraced by every district council area in Northern Ireland, with the final one going live at the end of this year. The councils clearly recognise its value and want to help people make informed choices around the purchase of food – wherever they eat or shop. Would-be diners can now check out Food Hygiene Ratings online at food.gov.uk/ratings, and they can also look out for the scheme’s green and black stickers and certificates that food businesses are proudly displaying in their premises, not just in Northern Ireland, but also throughout the England and Wales.”
Under the scheme, food businesses are rated on a scale of zero to five with zero meaning ‘urgent improvement necessary’ and the top rating of five representing a ‘very good’ standard of food hygiene. Around three quarters of food businesses in Northern Ireland have received one of the top two ratings.
Although businesses are not legally obliged to show their rating in their window, Northern Ireland has the highest rates of display throughout the UK with half of businesses choosing to display their ratings. Even where a business doesn’t show their rating, consumers can always check them online at food.gov.uk/ratings.
Catriona Davis, Senior Environmental Health Officer at Magherafelt District Council, advised: “The interest from food businesses in Magherafelt has been exceptional with many recognising that a good food hygiene rating is good for business. The benefits of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme means that local businesses now recognise that they all operate on a level playing field when it comes to environmental health – whilst consumers can now rely on a consistent and transparent approach to food hygiene right across Northern Ireland, from Coleraine to Newry. We would urge consumers to check the ratings regularly as they may change after a business has had a food safety inspection.”
A business receives a rating based on information from routine food hygiene inspection programmes carried out by council food safety officers. The hygiene rating tells you the standards of hygiene found at the time of the inspection and therefore ratings may change over time. To find out more about the scheme or check out food hygiene ratings log on to food.gov.uk/ratings.