The United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency has written to all local authorities in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland to inform them of an update to the Food Hygiene Rating System.

The Food Hygiene Rating System helps consumers choose which eateries to go to and which grocery stores to shop at by providing information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, hotels, supermarkets, and other food establishments.

uk-fsa-grading.jpg“It’s a really exciting time for the scheme as things are moving on pace. We are really impressed with the enthusiasm of the “early adopters” for getting the scheme up and running and we share their commitment to making it a success. We are very pleased with the look and feel that the new branding gives to the scheme as it makes it easy for consumers to see at a glance what the hygiene rating is,” said Catriona Stewart, Head of the Food Hygiene Ratings Team.

Local launches of the Food Hygiene Rating System are to be available in the fall, while all 22 local authorities in Wales plan to have a system in place by October 1.  English authorities plan to launch ‘early adopter’ schemes in the South West, as well as the East and South East regions.

Ratings will be shown on a simple numeric scale and called the “Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.”  The numeric branding is supposed to make it easy for consumers to understand and use the food hygiene ratings to better ensure what they are eating is safe.

The Food Standards Agency also announced that an online consumer search facility and local authority data upload system is in a testing phase.  The search facility will allow consumers to search for hygiene ratings for businesses in areas where the scheme is run.  The online system, which is currently being tested by consumers and local authorities, is expected to go public in mid-September.

The full letter released by the Food Standards Agency to local authorities about the system is available on the agency’s Website.