The Welsh Government will showcase proposals in a draft Bill for consultation, intended to offer customers with more information about where they buy or eat food, increase food hygiene practices among the industry and improve public health by reducing the incidence of food-borne sickness.
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Health and Social Services, launched the consultation at the Habit Tea Room in Llandudno.
Under the plan, businesses will be rated with a score between 0-5, with a 5 rating meaning hygiene standards are very good and 0 meaning urgent improvement is needed.
The rating will be based on criteria including the condition of the premises and the standards of their food handling – for example how the food is prepared, cooked, cooled and stored.
Businesses will be required to show their score in a prominent place such as at the entrance to their premises, or face a fine. The food hygiene ratings will also be available to see online.
94% of people in Wales thought it should be compulsory for food, restaurants and supermarkets to show their food hygiene rating score, according to a Consumer Focus Wales survey in October 2011.
Lesley Griffiths, Health Minister, said, “Compulsory display of hygiene ratings will encourage all businesses to improve their procedures and drive up standards. Professor Hugh Pennington, who chaired the public inquiry into the 2005 E.coli outbreak supports such a scheme as an inexpensive way of driving significant improvements in food safety.
“It is already a legal requirement for food businesses to meet hygiene regulations set out in food law, but businesses are not currently required to display their ratings and those with low scores generally do not display them.”
The scheme is being supported by the general public, restaurant insurance providers and food manufacturers. In Wales, around 30,000 businesses would be covered by the scheme. At the moment, more than 13,500 have been rated under a voluntary scheme operated by the Food Standards Agency, although only one in three are displaying their rating.