Whichever way you look at it, the fact that prominently displaying official food hygiene star ratings isn’t already mandatory doesn’t make a great deal of sense at all. The ratings exist, they exist to protect/inform the public and they motivate restaurants to take better care of themselves. Or at least they would, if it wasn’t for the fact that they are usually hidden entirely from view and the vast majority of people don’t bother asking to see them.
In Wales, things are rather different. For some time now, displaying official food hygiene star ratings in a manner that allows would-be customers to see them before even entering the place is a fundamental requirement. As such, in any instance where a restaurants or in eatery was to be slapped with zero stars, chances are it would a) be bad for business and b) motivate improvements.
Over in London however, no such luck. A recent roundup published by the Food Standards Agency showed that well over 350 restaurants in London are up and running right now with ZERO star ratings. And as they don’t need to make this information public unless requested directly by customers, they don’t.
So really – what’s the motivation to make any changes?
The answer – none. Or at least, none yet.
A report recently published by ITV News brought to light shocking evidence that cockroaches and rats are rife in restaurants across the capital. Suffice to say of course, pointing an accusatory finger only at the capital is probably unfair as with the same bizarre food hygiene star ratings system in force open down the country, it’s probably far more widespread than you’d like to imagine.
On the plus side, the days of any restaurant owner getting away with such slack operational standards may be numbered.
The reason being that the calls to extend the way business is done in Wales to the rest of the country are intensifying and gaining momentum by the day. The Food Standards Agency in particular has been vocal on the subject for some time, with vast swathes of the public slowly but surely joining the campaign for change.
The most frustrating thing about the whole subject is the way in which it’s not as if restaurants and takeaways are really being asked to do anything they shouldn’t be doing as standard anyway, day in and day out. Common sense cleaning regimes along with occasional deep-cleaning from the professionals is really all that’s necessary to maintain the most meticulous hygiene standards.
Mercifully, those who choose not to operate in accordance with at least accessible standards may soon find it considerably more difficult to get away with their laziness.