Scores on Doors will have to wait for Welsh

There’s always a difference between saying there are food safety standards and actually being able to prove such standards are followed.

Which leads into that food safety culture thing.

Consumer Focus Wales said today the public has been misled by promises a new food hygiene ratings system would be up and running this year, and that it could now be another 12 months before people were able to find out how clean their local takeaway, restaurant, pub or supermarket is.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced last month that a new website designed to carry the hygiene ratings of every food business would be up and running by October 1.

But the agency has admitted existing environmental health inspection reports will not be uploaded to the site.

Instead, information will only be added as and when councils carry out inspections of premises after launch day.

An FSA spokesman, who was apparently previously employed at the Ministry of Silly Walks, said data would be added “at a fairly substantial rate of progress” once the process used to gather information is standardised.

“The Food Standards Agency agrees that information on the hygiene rating of a food business should be made available to the public at the earliest opportunity. However, to be meaningful, this information needs to be accurate and understandable and based on judgements that are consistent from one business to another. This will provide the data to enable the public to make an informed choice about where they eat and buy food from. … The agency and local authorities seek to ensure that the scheme is introduced in a sustainable way, but are mindful of the practicalities it involves and have accepted that it is not feasible to launch a scheme in the autumn with all Welsh food businesses listed from the outset.”

Sharon Mills, who led calls for the scheme following the E.coli O157 outbreak in 2005 that claimed the life of her son Mason Jones, said the agency appeared to be putting the rights of businesses before the public’s right to know, adding,

“I agree that the information has got to be correct, but I think their argument is complete and utter nonsense.”

She’s right. Bureau-types could fritter for years trying to get everything right. Get it up, get it out, then make it better.

The agency said it was undertaking public consultation to help it decide how to express the ratings on the new website.

But although the scores will be available on the Internet, businesses will not be forced to display them on their premises.

I’d rather insert pencils into my eyeballs than listen to this drivel.