A few times a year the Bolton News and other papers publish food hygiene scores for local businesses. The reaction is predictable, lots of people shocked to learn that a place they often buy from has a low rating.
But why are people so surprised? We all recognise the green stickers that show the hygiene rating, so why is it down to the local newspaper to highlight businesses with a low score?
The information is published online, at scoresonthedoors.org.uk, which is useful but most people have never heard of it and few would actively investigate local food outlets in advance of a visit or purchase.
All businesses are given a green sticker to display after they are rated but there is no requirement to display them. We don’t see this information on ordering sites like Just Eat or Hungryhouse either.
I want to change that.
In Wales and Northern Ireland they have made it compulsory to display the sticker in a clear place and for staff to be able to give the latest rating if asked.
Northern Ireland are taking it further too, introducing new rules to make display compulsory as part of online sales too.
These are good common sense ideas and we should be adopting them across the UK. Let’s put the scores on the doors.
The campaign so far
The campaign has the backing of Food Standards Agency Chairman Heather Hancock.
Bolton Council (and others around the country) are also lobbing for extra powers to enforce scores on the doors.
I have raised this issue in Parliament through Early Day Motions.
My motion from 2015 can be found here - http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2015-16/566
My motion from 2017 can be found here - http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2016-17/925
I have also raised the issue directly with Government Ministers in Parliament. My questions and their answers in full are below.