At this time of year, lots of people will be eating out at restaurants across the Harrogate district celebrating the festive period with family and friends.
It is perhaps more important than ever at this time of year to ensure that the food businesses people will be using for dining out and purchasing food from have high standards of food safety and hygiene.
Harrogate Borough Council’s Food Safety Team has been operating the Food Standards Agency’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme since April this year. This scheme, which is fully accessible on line to members of the public, awards each business a rating after a food safety inspection has taken place. The highest possible rating is a 5 (very good) with the lowest 0 (urgent improvement needed)
The scheme allows individuals to make an informed decision about where they might be planning to eat or purchase food especially over the Christmas period according to the rating. It also places an extra responsibility on food business operators to maintain and improve their standards.
Since its launch earlier this year, over 1300 premises have received a rating. Over sixty seven per cent of those inspected have received a 5 rating (very good).
Cllr Margaret Atkinson, Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Rural Affairs, whose portfolio includes public and community health matters, said:
Customers are now free to make a choice about where they eat or purchase food based on food safety and hygiene standards. This not only gives customers the power to make informed choices it also provides an incentive for under performing businesses to improve. Since the launch of the scheme in April there has been a steady increase in standards.
Members of the public can access the food hygiene rating scheme on the council’s website – www.harrogate.gov.uk and search for Food Hygiene Rating mobile phone apps are also available http://ratings.food.gov.uk