Christmas shoppers in Stoke-on-Trent are reminded they can check out food hygiene ratings before deciding where to take their business.
‘Look before you book’ is also the message for party-goers, as the city council anticipates the festive season’s traditional trade boost for restaurants and food outlets.
The council works in partnership with the Food Standards Agency to rate food businesses at each inspection.
Cabinet member for housing, neighbourhoods & community safety Councillor Janine Bridges said: “Christmas coming
means people are doing more food shopping and there are parties going on all over the city.
“The ratings give consumers a glimpse of what is going on behind the scenes in the kitchen when they eat out, or in shops, before they decide where to go – so a good hygiene rating is good for business and essential for continued good health.
“We want to make sure that food manufactured or sold in the city is safe to eat and prepared by suitably trained people so the public can remain healthy and enjoy Christmas.
“Our officers will give free advice to anyone considering setting up a business and looking for advice on food safety or food safety training.”
The National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme was launched in Stoke-on-Trent in November last year.
It tells consumers about hygiene standards in food outlets across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, so people can be better informed when deciding where to dine out or shop for food.
Around 2000 Stoke-on-Trent businesses have been rated by Environmental Health Officers.
One of those, Mr Jason Miller, of Millers butchers in Queen Street, Burslem, said it was good for business.
He said: “The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is an excellent idea. I am really proud of my 5* rating.
“The recognition is my reward for all the hard work I have put in over 30 years for the benefit of my customers.
“I would say to other businesses that if you do the job properly there is nothing to be afraid of from the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme - I think discerning customers are now looking out for a certificate which shows a good rating.”
Food outlets, such as supermarkets, grocers, mobile traders, restaurants, takeaways and pubs, are inspected by council food safety officers and rated on a food hygiene scale ranging from five to zero:
5 – “Very good”
4 – “Good”
3 – “Generally satisfactory”
2 – “Improvement necessary”
1 – “Major improvement necessary”
0 – “Urgent improvement necessary”
Food businesses are given a certificate and a sticker to display at the entrance to their premises for potential customers to see. Consumers should ask to see the rating certificate if it is not prominently displayed, no certificate or sticker might mean a poor rating.
For information on the scheme call 01782 232065. The ratings are also displayed on the national FSA website FSA website at www.food.gov.uk/ratings or you can download the free food hygiene ratings app You from Google Play (Android) and iTunes