209A scheme set up to help consumers choose where they eat by awarding a hygiene rating to the food business celebrates its fifth birthday next week.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme now used by 325 out of 326 local councils is also driving up hygiene standards in food outlets.

The Food Standards Agency wants to build on this success and reduce consumer risk even further by making more people ‘look before they book’.

Local food safety officers inspect the businesses and rate them from 0 to 5, with 5 being very good and 0 which requires urgent improvement – it covers restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways and hotels as well as supermarkets and food shops.

“By checking the rating and choosing only a food business that has a score of 3 or above, customers can be reassured that they have chosen a food business where they take food safety seriously,” said Councillor Brian Phillips, Portfolio Holder for Environmental and Planning Services.

“The truth is – you don’t know how good or clean a food business is until you check their Food Hygiene Rating.

“Hambleton District Council is proud to be part of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. More and more customers are making an informed choice by voting with their feet, so we are encouraging all businesses throughout Hambleton to display their rating. Food businesses work hard to achieve a good rating and it’s something to be proud of.

“We currently have 734 businesses registered on the ratings scheme with 64% of them having a top rating of 5 compared to 480 five years ago when 53% of them were rated 5. We also only have 35 businesses registered with a rating of 2 or below and we are continuing to work hard with these businesses to encourage them to improve their rating.”

If you run a food business, you should know that no matter how small you can achieve the top rating of 5. Over a third of businesses displaying their rating at their premises say it has made a difference by attracting more custom, improving their reputation and increasing customer confidence.

To check out a food hygiene rating visit http://ratings.food.gov.uk/

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