The Wales on Sunday reported yesterday that a number of businesses in Wales believe that plans to force shops to display their food hygiene ratings are “very unfair” and could be damaging to small traders.
The Assembly Bill passed last month provides that Welsh food businesses will soon be forced to display their hygiene ratings. The Welsh Government says the ratings system, which rates businesses from 0 to 5, is essential to protect public health and will help drive up standards in the food industry. But as the paper reports, many shop owners fear the decision could damage their businesses because customers do not understand the ratings system and how it is assessed:
One café owner in Cardiff described the hygiene inspection system as similar to “putting a blindfold on and throwing a dart”.
Businesses serving food to the public are rated with a score, with zero meaning urgent improvement is needed and five showing that hygiene standards are very good.
But shops say the system is misleading; a score of zero still allows a food business to operate and scores can change depending on seemingly small factors – including correctly completed paperwork – and on even on the person inspecting.
Some businesses have called on a pass-fail system to be implemented to ensure greater clarity for business owners and customers.
Sheron Jones, of Bridgend, runs a sandwich bar and a separate carvery business in Swansea.
The 59-year-old said that although she operates both her businesses in exactly the same way, one received a hygiene rating of five while the other was awarded a three.
Sheron said: “People looking at my three-star will think we’re not keeping it as clean. I think it’s very unfair.
“They could make the paperwork easier for businesses. I used to work in a bank so I know paperwork – and it’s not straightforward.”