FENLAND: Scores on the doors rate food hygiene standards at hundreds of venues in the district
Report by MAGGIE GIBSON TWENTY four Fenland outlets for food- ranging from nursing homes to schools and even a Chinese take away- are celebrating getting a 5* rating in a new food hygiene assessment. They top the league table of 400 outlets reviewed by F
Report by MAGGIE GIBSON
TWENTY four Fenland outlets for food- ranging from nursing homes to schools and even a Chinese take away- are celebrating getting a 5* rating in a new food hygiene assessment.
They top the league table of 400 outlets reviewed by Fenland District Council under a new 'scores on the door' policy.
Schools such as Lionel Walden Primary, Gorefield Primary, New Road Primary, Whittlesey, Sir Harry Community College, all get a 5* rating, as does Choys Chinese Takeaway in Coates, sheltered housing in Roman Court, Leverington, Somers Court, Wisbech, and Jubilee Court, March.
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J H Betts the butcher from Station Road, March, also wins a 5* rating, and top marks also go to Terrys Diner Ltd of Market Place, Wisbech, Etcetera Café in York Row, Wisbech and The Wheatsheaf, Wisbech.
And there's also a 5* rating for March Indoor Bowls Club and Cygnet Compact Catering, who run the staff canteen at McCains of Whittlesey.
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Inspectors have identified the health and hygiene of registered businesses- and have awarded no stars to only 10 outlets. The 'scores on the doors' can be accessed via http://www.scoresonthedoors.org.uk/clients.php and if you follow the links you can check the scores for all Fenland outlets. The star ratings can also be viewed on the council's website at www.fenland.gov.uk/food
The council sees the scheme as a way of improving food hygiene standards and will shortly launch an initiative to make sure the public is up to speed on what it happening.
Mike Gleadow, the council's food and safety manager, said: "I thought there might have been more resistance from businesses but a large percentage were in favour of the scheme - now we want to improve consumer awareness.
"The star rating is a way of incentifying businesses. We look to get the one stars up to two or three stars. The scheme is good because businesses can see when they are making progress."
In the past performance indicators may have been based on how many prosecutions the council took against premises not complying with food hygiene laws - now the pendulum has swung and it is the percentage of food businesses complying with the law which is taken as an indicator.
When they make an unannounced visit health officers make their judgement based on three criteria
n food hygiene practices
n the structure, lighting and pest proofing of the premises
n and the management of the premises from a food hygiene perspective.
A star rating ranging from no stars to five stars for excellent is used to score businesses.
Mr Gleadow said: "We don't have to resort to legal powers very often although we do sometimes have to take enforcement action. The general standard is quite good and we do an awful lot to help businesses. We now have businesses coming to us and asking what they can do to improve."
The council runs food hygiene courses and was awarded a £50,000 grant to promote a 'Safer Food Better Business' initiative.
Displaying the star rating certificate is voluntary and customers can ask what the star rating is but businesses are not obliged to give the information verbally. Mr Gleadow says that may change to some sort of legal requirement if and when a national scheme is adopted.
Similar schemes are being set up around the country and 145 councils have introduced scores on the doors schemes and Mr Gleadow believes the star rating which has been adopted by Fenland and others is one of the most easily understood
Eventually around 500 food businesses in Fenland will be inspected.
Mr Gleadow says if a business believes it has not been treated fairly the council's complaints procedure can be used and the matter will be investigated.
And if business feels that standards have improved since the inspection Mr Gleadow says they have the right to have their comments posted on the council's website as long as they are accurate in the opinion of the officer.
Mike Gleadlow. 0598BP118 0615BP118
Betts Butchers - Andy Oakes Mick Mundell, Kevin Swann, Stewart Westley and Denise Swann. 0743BP118