Earlier this week, Bradford’s local paper the Telegraph & Argus published a list of 27 food outlets in the Bradford district which scored 0 on their inspections. All premises in England and Wales which serve food for sale have to be inspected by the local authority, using criteria set by the Food Standards Agency, and outlets are scored from 0 (‘urgent improvement necessary’) to 5 (‘very good’). A score of 3 and above is a pass, but venues which score 2 or less are required to undertake improvements.
The T&A’s list somewhat surprisingly includes the Zouk Tea Bar and Grill, one of the larger and better known Indian restaurants in the city, although the manager is quoted in the article saying that they are confident of doing better next time.
The publication of the list made me check the listings for Sowerby Bridge. All food hygiene ratings should be available to view on the Scores on the Doors web site, and there’s a nifty augmented reality iPhone app to go with it. Again, a surprise – Gimbals, our favourite restaurant which is listed in the Good Food Guide – only scored two out of five in an inspection in May last year, which means that some improvement is necessary.
The food hygiene rating system has been around for some years now. Originally a voluntary scheme run by a handful of local councils, it was recently standardised and made into a national scheme. So it’s depressing that so many outlets score below the pass mark of three.
Perhaps one reason is that these places can get away with it. Unlike in Wales, where it is compulsory for outlets to display their hygiene ratings, there’s no such law in England, so failing venues can try to hide the fact that they’re not compliant. I hope that the rules are changed and that all venues will have to show their scores – and one of Bradford’s MPs is campaigning on the issue. If outlets have to show that they don’t care about hygiene, then hopefully more people will vote with their feet and go elsewhere, and places will be shamed into bucking up their standards.