It’s not scores on doors if the restaurant inspection result isn’t posted

The Brits like to call their restaurant inspection disclosure system ‘scores on doors’ but consumers in Wales are unanimously disappointed and probably a little baffled that results won’t actually have to be posted.

But let a spokeswoman from the U.K. Food Standards Agency explain:

“The scheme is neither intended to punish non-compliance nor be an additional enforcement tool for local authorities. There are other, more appropriate, enforcement options available.

“We believe that as awareness of the national scheme grows, consumers will make their own judgments about a business failing to display its score and that this will encourage businesses to display them.”

Abby Alford of WalesOnline reports that FSA maintains “the display of scores had been opposed by industry, would be an unwelcome delay in introducing the scheme and was not in line with the principle of better regulation.”


Soccer-based food safety metaphors suck: give food bugs the red card this summer?

We visited with our neighbors yesterday and their baby, Luna Sofia, who is currently called baby Luna Sofia although that may pass, and the Columbian mother asked if I was going to watch the World Cup of soccer.

I said no, and tried to extol the virtues of ice hockey.When I think of watching World Cup soccer I have this image of Malcolm McDowell being rehabilitated in A Clockwork Orange.

But that doesn’t stop the civilized British soccer fans from using bad World Cup metaphors to spread their faith-based food safety.

Food Safety Week starts today, and with many people likely to have barbecues or be eating outdoors for World Cup matches, the Food Standards Agency is reminding everyone that food bugs can cause more misery than a penalty shoot-out.

The U.K. Food Standards Agency also has some top food safety tips for people planning barbecues this summer:

* always make sure chicken, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs are cooked until steaming hot all the way through, none of the meat should be pink and any juices must run clear.

This is wrong. Color is a lousy indicator and steaming hot means nothing. Although after my last post, a U.K. dude wrote in to say,

Not every mother of three children rushing about with a full time job has the time to use your wonderful tip thermometer and so visual advice is both sensible and correct.

Nope, still wrong, and in this case, sexist. What about fathers with four daughters making meals and a full-time job? Did it for years, with a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

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.