FSA News Item, 10 November 2008
From May to August this year, the Agency consulted on a proposal for a UK-wide 'scores on the doors' scheme for providing consumers with information about hygiene standards in food businesses. The 414 responses received across the UK (approximately 52% from industry stakeholders, 45% from enforcement bodies and 4% from consumer organisations) are available from today in the Agency's library.
The contact details for the library are:
The Agency is currently meeting with key stakeholders to consider the consultation results and to discuss with them how to move forward towards a UK-wide scheme.
A brief summary of the views of the three main stakeholder groups – consumers, enforcement, and industry – is given below. A more detailed summary will be published on the Agency's website following discussion of the consultation results and of recommendations for a UK-wide scheme by the Agency's Board at its meeting on 10 December 2008.
Summary of views
Establishment of a UK-wide scheme
Although some parts of industry are opposed to scores on the doors in principle, the majority of responses indicated strong support for a UK-wide scheme.
The majority view was that all businesses supplying direct to the consumer (with exemptions for 'low-risk' businesses) should be scored. The possibility of extending this to all businesses in the future was also a common view.
Number of tiers
Industry stakeholders across the UK supported a two-tier approach ('pass/improvement required') as did consumer and enforcement stakeholders in Scotland. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, consumer and enforcement stakeholders favoured multi-tier schemes with the majority supporting a six-tier option.
Except in Scotland, enforcement stakeholders generally favoured using stars to represent the score while industry across the UK opposed this. As regards descriptors, there was agreement that improvements to the proposals were needed.
There was general support for display of the scores at the premises and on a website, with enforcement stakeholders in particular supporting mandatory display at least at some point in the future.
Safeguards (mechanisms for re-inspection and for appeals)
These are essential to industry and although a number of local authorities adamantly oppose re-inspections for re-scoring purposes, others appear to recognise the need for such a safeguard to ensure natural justice, though within specifically defined circumstances only. There was widespread acceptance that an appeals mechanism is required. Views on charging businesses for these re-inspections were mixed.
Local authority support (including training and guidance, web-based platform/IT assistance, stakeholder group, marketing and branding, and promotional activities)
It was evident from the consultation response that the strength of the IT support and a cost-neutral option will be critical in obtaining local authority support for a UK-wide option, particularly for those authorities that already have schemes in place.