Food outlets 'should be forced to display hygiene scores'
All food outlets from supermarkets to Michelin-starred restaurants should be forced to show their hygiene "scores on the doors" to raise standards, council leaders say.
All businesses selling food in England are rated by local authority environmental health teams but have no obligation to publicise the result, the Local Government Association says.
It wants showing the marks-out-of-five score to be made mandatory as they are already in Wales and will be in Northern Ireland from October.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said it wants to see mandatory display of hygiene scores in England.
Simon Blackburn, Blackpool councillor and chairman of the LGA's safer and stronger communities board, said: "Anyone in England who sees a business without a hygiene rating sticker currently has to decide if they want to eat or buy food there without knowing what's going on in the kitchen.
"It's not always easy for people to judge hygiene standards simply by walking through the front door of a premise and know whether they are about to be served a 'dodgy' burger or kebab that could pose a serious risk to their health."
The LGA wants the mandatory action to be applied to premises including "restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, sandwich shops, supermarkets and delicatessens" with failure punished by either a fine or prosecution.
The Food Standards Agency already runs the the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) alongside councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which covers restaurants, takeaways and food shops.
Figures released in November for 2014/15 showed 93% of businesses had a rating of 3 to 5.
But only Wales has made it a requirement to have it on show, introducing the measure into law in 2013.
At the moment in England the findings of inspections by environmental health teams are published on the FSA website, with optional green sticker certificates that can be put on show.
The website says: "Businesses in England and Northern Ireland do not have to display their rating. So if you see a business without a hygiene rating sticker or certificate, you'll have to decide if you want to eat or buy food from there without knowing the hygiene standards."
In December the FSA announced it wanted mandatory display of its stickers, announcing it was gathering evidence to present a case to the Government.
Cllr Blackburn added: "Forcing all food outlets in England to display a hygiene rating would help to crack down on and expose businesses that flout the law and put people at risk by incentivising them to improve or maintain high hygiene standards and show customers how seriously they take the issue.
"A good food hygiene rating is good for business and people in England should also now be able to use it to decide if they are happy with their choice of food outlet, or would prefer to go somewhere else with higher standards."