Name and shame for Canberra restaurants?

Two months after a senior health official told the Canberra Times that Canberrans must not be told which of the city’s restaurants were deemed too unhygienic to serve food, because naming them would undermine the rule of law, Canberra wants to introduce a name-and-shame program for restaurant inspection disclosure.

Like Washington, D.C., the Australian Capital Territory is a unique government structure all its own. Although located within the Australian state of New South
Wales, which includes Sydney, ACT and the federal capital of Canberra can apparently make its own rules – at least regarding restaurant inspection disclosure.

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher told ABC News recommendations include forcing restaurants to display official shame notices in their windows.

"We’ve had a couple of examples where businesses have been required to close and a sign may go up saying business closed due to holiday or something like that. So we are trying to look at how we manage that. That is, if you are closed because of a food safety reason that you have to display that clearly so people can see the reason behind the closure."

Ms Gallagher says they are also considering a ‘scores on doors’ system, which she says works well overseas in Singapore and Canada.

"Restaurants get rated against an ‘A to E’ based on their food handling techniques and inspections that are done. Obviously everyone would aspire to having an ‘A’.

Can’t speak for Singapore, but that’s not quite how it works in Canada, where a mixture of colors, grades and websites are used in various counties.

Regardless, Ms Gallagher said – without talking to industry – that she expects the industry will welcome the ideas.

"It is about rewarding those that do the right thing. It is about identifying the poor performers, it’s not actually doing anything against those who are doing the right thing.”