The United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has come up with a response to all those who say that publishing restaurant inspections is just a “moment in time” report — it is mapping the entire rap sheet for businesses successfully prosecuted for any food standard, food hygiene or food safety-related violations. The entire database for these prosecutions in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are being made public via a searchable live map. According to FSA, the database gives details of local authority food hygiene and food safety prosecutions and outlines where and how food businesses have breached regulations. These data are supplied on a voluntary basis by local authority officers. The new map is also being published to highlight the number and type of successful fines levied. “We want businesses to understand how important it is not to flout the rules which are there to protect public health. If they do, then both we and local authorities will take action against them,” said Rod Ainsworth, FSA’s director of regulatory and legal strategy. He said that publication of this information also lets local authorities share intelligence to get a better understanding of where and how food hygiene and safety breaches occur. “This information will also be useful to consumers and businesses when choosing suppliers,” Ainsworth added. “General Food Law is there to keep consumers safe. Like our Food Hygiene Rating scheme, we want the prosecutions database to empower consumers and businesses alike to vote with their feet and avoid those that are not following rules.” From information going back to April 1 of this year, FSA stated that there have been 419 prosecutions in total. A little more than 1 in 4 food law breaches (26 percent) were related to offenses where food enforcement officers found there was a failure by businesses to keep premises or equipment clean. Other common food law breaches included unfit food on the premises, a lack of hand-washing facilities and food safety training, as well as pest control issues.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)