Item Number: 7
Contains Confidential NO
or Exempt Information
Title Adoption of the Food Standards Agency (FSA)
national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) and
update on related work of the Food Safety Team.
Responsible Officer(s) Susan Parsonage : Director of Safer Communities
Author(s) Richard McHardy – Service Manager Business
email@example.com Tel: 020 8825 7224
Portfolio(s) Councillor Ranjit Dheer
For Consideration By Regulatory Committee
Date to be Considered 26th April 2012
Implementation Date if N/A
Not Called In
Affected Wards All
Keywords/Index Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, Food Standards
Agency, new rating scheme, Scores on Doors,
Olympics Torch Event.
Purpose of Report:
The report is to bring to the attention of Members the forthcoming withdrawal
of Ealing Council from the London Scores on the Doors food hygiene rating
system with the adoption of the FSA national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme
The report advises Members on the rationale in adopting the new scheme, the
perceived benefits to businesses and consumers, and the place and impact
that the scheme will have in delivering an improved food safety service.
That the Committee :
a) Note the perceived benefits to businesses and to consumers, and
that it constitutes a Government approved scheme.
b) Note the nature of grant support secured to deliver this scheme
and other pre-Olympic work designed to improve food hygiene.
c) Note the current commitments of the food service in its role as a
Food Authority under the Food Safety Act 1990.
2. Reason for Decision and Options Considered
2.1 The adoption of the new FHRS by Ealing Council has been
- the scheme had early support via a UK wide Steering Group made up
of local authority, consumer and food group representatives, the FSA,
and Local Better Regulation.
- Lord Young’s Report Common Sense Common Safety (Oct. 2010)
recommended the mandatory use of a national FHRS by local
- it is supported by the Government as an essential tool in counteracting
poor food hygiene practices and in reducing food borne illness, which
places significant and continuous burden on NHS resources.
- there is an expectation that all food authorities will migrate to or join the
new scheme to produce a national unified scheme to maximise
comparison of standards and consumer choice.
- the scheme currently attracts grant funding to assist the process.
- the food service did not proceed in the early wave of migration in 2010
because of concerns about the terms, impact and clarity of some
operational issues. As these matters have begun to be addressed, and
due to increasing acceptance of the situation by other London
authorities with whom we participate in the London Scores on the
Doors scheme, we signalled our intention to migrate to the new
- the practical changes involving IT software, website and database, and
operational standards allow an opportunity for a fundamental review
and implementation of improvements to the food service in line with
corporate performance requirements.
2.2 The alternative would be to remain independent of the new scheme
with a strong possibility of having to join the scheme at a later stage,
within a timeframe not of our choosing, and with no guaranteed
2.3 The decision to apply for funding for some pre-Olympic food hygiene
work is a statement of our best intent in contributing to the success of
the Torch Relay event as a responsible host, in endeavouring to
reducing risks from poorer performing businesses, giving them some
additional incentives to improve in the longer term, and in protecting
public health in the widest sense.
3. Key Implications
3.1 Formal contact with all businesses will be required because under the
current London Scheme more businesses receive a rating than is
proposed under the new scheme. This is because the new scheme is
aimed at those food business operators who supply food direct to the
final consumer eg restaurants, cafes, take-aways, sandwich shops and
other places where people eat outside of the home, as well as food
retailers. It is estimated that about 2400 businesses will fall within the
FHRS and of these, about 750 will get an improved rating and 70 a
worse rating. A significant number of the latter group may challenge this
position and in order to be even handed, food officers will visit them on
request to determine whether the rating remains accurate.
3.2 Businesses however will overall have improved safeguards such as a
right of appeal, a right of reply and, to request a re-rating visit. The
impact on the food team in responding to these additional requests, on
routine programmed inspections is yet to be seen. However the food
team is planning for increased activity and will be giving priority to
addressing any such enquiries. The FSA has also provided some
additional reassurance in this respect by offering funding where it can be
shown that the uptake of business safeguard actions impacts negatively
on routine programmed inspections and on-going enforcement priorities.
3.3 A media campaign will be implemented to assist in highlighting these
new changes to both the business community and to Borough residents.
3.4 This process is underway and must be completed pre-Olympics ie 27 th
July. A go-live will be officially announced when the majority of
businesses have been verified and informed.
3.5 Coupled with this work will be an initiative funded independently by the
FSA to identify a tranche of poorly performing businesses in zones that
may get additional tourists as we approach the Olympic period. We have
targetted one hundred zero or one star rated premises(failing). Ealing
town centre with its association as an Olympic Torch destination, and
Southall town centre are the two key zones and a few premises in Acton.
This project is to be completed by mid July and the FSA provided with a
If this work is successful ( see section 2.3) it will also help, albeit in a
minor way, to offset inspection demand frequency.
4.1 The Council has secured funding from the FSA totalling just over £31K to
deliver the FHRS project. A project code and account has been set up
with the assistance of our Finance Liaison Officer and expenditure will
have to be separately accounted for to the FSA.
4.2 A significant proportion of the funding is to backfill the post of a
Regulatory Services Officer who is working in conjunction with an IT
specialist contractor. Media team, management, procedure writing and
training costs are also included.
4.3 Half of the funding has been paid into this account and the balance to be
claimed by us from the FSA.
4.4 The percentage of businesses within the scheme who will avail
themselves of safeguard actions (Reference section 3.2) is uncertain.
Even a 5% interest/uptake level in this respect could result in a 60
premises inspection equivalent loss in activity over the year for the food
team. Certainly, additional administrative and field officer time will impact
negatively on routine programmed work forming the basis of the new
scheme. Even with FSA assurance on this subject, the burden of proof to
demonstrate a negative impact, the application process itself, and
subsequent mode of payment, and thereafter securing a contractor to
recover lost work, predicates some delay ( see section 6.11). The ability
to retrieve a situation such as that, would also depend on the nature of
demand and time of year in the inspection cycle.
4.5 There must be sufficient on-going resource to secure trained and
competent field staff operating in a quality assured environment, but this
should be met from existing budget provision.
4.6 The FSA will supply printed blank certificates and stickers to local
authority free of charge. There are no cost implications for businesses.
4.7 A key resource for the food team will be the necessity of securing efficient
administrative and IT support to sustain proficiency in certificate
production and turn-round, in the recording of appeals and requests for
re-rating, and in keeping the database accurate and reliable such as to
satisfy FSA Brand Standard requirements and, supplying information for
statistical publication on the FSA website.
4.8 Following a separate application to the FSA, the Council was also
awarded just over £10K to target 100 of the poorest performing
businesses. This work will be undertaken by contractors supervised by
LBE food team staff. The relatively minor administrative work associated
with this project will be accommodated within the grant and from existing
5.1 There are no legal requirements to participate in any formal scheme
entailing the publication of food hygiene ratings in the public domain. To
date LBE has voluntarily participated in the London Scores on the Doors
scheme since 2007. The FSA’s Food Law Code of Practice sets down
criteria that allow a risk based approach to be followed when developing
a food hygiene intervention programme.
5.2 It is not clearly established whether FSA would have pursued a
mandatory approach if uptake of the newly proposed scheme was failing.
It is clear however that momentum in new participants and in migration
from existing rating schemes is now occurring. This will likely preclude
the necessity for legislation.
5.3 Guidance produced by the FSA in September 2010 indicates that under
the provisions of the Food Standards Act 1999 the Agency considers it
has the powers to propose and endorse food hygiene rating schemes
because the main aim of such schemes is to inform consumer choice.
5.4 The success or otherwise of participation in and adherence to the Brand
Standard will however be under scrutiny by FSA as to whether as a Food
Authority we are fulfilling our requirements in this respect. In a worst
possible scenario, the failure by a Food Authority to discharge its
statutory duties appropriately could result in formal intervention by the
6. Detailed Consideration
6.1 The FHRS is an FSA/local authority partnership initiative. The scheme
provides consumers with information about hygiene standards in food
establishments at the time of inspection to check compliance with the
legal requirements of food hygiene. The rating reflects the findings and
allows consumers to make informed choices about where they choose to
shop. This should encourage food businesses to improve their standards.
6.2 The rating standard is six tiered (0-5) with the top rating being “Very
good” and the bottom being “Urgent improvement necessary”. Food
hygiene ratings are published online at food.gov.uk/ratings. Currently,
businesses are encouraged to display their stickers but a review is shortly
to be held as to whether this should become compulsory. See Appendix
6.3 The FHRS incorporates safeguards to ensure fairness to business. This
includes an appeal procedure, a “right to reply” for publication, and a
mechanism for requesting a re-rating inspection after improvements have
been made. See Appendix 1.
6.4 The authority currently has about 2800 food business registrations and a
significant amount of data cleansing is taking place. It is estimated that
about 2400 businesses will ultimately fall within the scheme. The likes of
manufacturers, importers and packers will fall outside of it. There will no
doubt be some requirement from these companies that some form of
written statement still be provided to indicate their level of compliance
with standards. Some businesses are also technically “exempt” but with
an opt-in clause.
6.5 All registered food businesses will shortly receive a letter telling them
about the new scheme and whether they fall within or outside of it Those
that lie within will also be given an indicative rating as to what rating they
will initially receive under the new scheme. A significant number of
businesses will receive the same rating and up to 750 will be slightly
better off but up to 70 will be downgraded and planned revisits will take
place to assess their true status and provide support and information to
6.6 Any improvement to ratings of businesses will in the longer term also be
of benefit to the food service in that the inspection frequency will fall as it
relates to relative risk. The food team will have to prepare however for a
potentially busy introductory period as businesses also choose to
exercise their safeguard rights and make challenges to their ratings.
These challenges must be responded to within set timeframes and to due
6.7 New procedural guidelines are being developed along with a Consistency
Framework around which quality of delivery will be built. Food inspectors
are already receiving training in the nuances of the new system although
in principle it is very similar to existing procedures. The validity and
credibility of the system predicates on the competency and
professionalism of the staff in their inspection skills, interpretation of
evidence, and the handling and recording of inspection outcomes.
6.8 The issue of competency of regulatory officers continues to be a high
priority for the Local Better Regulation Office and the Chartered Institute
of Environmental Health. The development of self-assessment packages
for training and support for officers is a helpful management tool.
Competency of staff must also be set against the general principles of
better regulation and the need to get the balance right in driving out bad
business whilst actively encouraging and supporting the growth of
businesses with potential.
6.9 The “right to reply” effectively is a public right of reply but the food team
service will retain some basic editorial rights over what material is placed
on the official website. Equally there are increased incentives for
businesses to see improved ratings and potentially more customers.
6.10 The food service will however continue to take a strong enforcement
approach towards poorly performing businesses ie those who will not
engage with a view to improving or who otherwise place the public at risk.
Over the last year there have been a significant number of statutory
notices served, closures of Borough food premises and prosecutions
taken by the food team. A recent leading article in the Ealing Gazette
(also published in Southall edition) dated the 2nd March 2012 gave voice
to some of these issues.
6.11 The FSA will closely monitor the response of both businesses and the
public to the scheme and have indicated that they will be receptive to
providing financial support to local authorities whose continued
enforcement drive is being offset by those businesses utilizing their
safeguarding rights and which could otherwise derail the food hygiene
6.12 Whilst introducing the FHRS the food team shortly enters into the next
annual round of inspections and must continue all other regulatory work
in engaging with businesses that lie outside the scheme, many of whom
require food standards inspections, and some requiring specific approval
to operate under EU regulations eg those manufacturing meat, dairy or
fish products. These are a high risk priority to the food service as the FSA
is involved in the approval process. Complaints from the public and other
regulators must also be addressed within customer centric timeframes.
6.13 The food Team Leader has undertaken initial in-house training of food
officers in the new scoring requirements for the scheme, and this must
extend to any agency staff if utilized. Careful consideration is also being
given to the most recent guidance on controlling risks from E.coli 0157 (
particularly where raw food is handled with ready-to-eat food).
Consistency of interpretation within the scoring scheme is essential in this
respect because businesses not having appropriate controls in place
could face additional risk scoring and hence suppressed ratings. This
would lead to increased inspection frequency from the food team’s
6.14 A relatively small number of food businesses will also be targeted by
the food service for special intervention leading up to the arrival of the
Olympic Torch within the Borough. This grant funded work will see closer
engagement with some poorly performing businesses in an endeavour to
get them to make specific improvements that will allow them to improve
their food hygiene rating and potentially see benefits to their trade as
Ealing prepares to welcome tourists in the Summer period for the
Olympics. The selection of appropriate businesses and areas is geared
towards this and contractors will be used to discharge this work while
Council officers continue routine work. This work should be completed by
early July 2012.
6.15 Part of the Olympic project will involve at least one seminar to which
nominated businesses will be invited. It is envisaged that these will take
place in May potentially in Southall and in Ealing. Businesses will be
given further assistance by Council officers in making changes and in
sustaining those improvements to achieve higher ratings.
7. Conclusions and Recommendations
The FHRS will become the new national unified food hygiene rating
system. It will be beneficial for Ealing Council to adopt the scheme now,
and put its operational requirements into full effect in the interests of all
Members are requested to endorse the approach being taken, in
recognition of our ambition to create a modern and responsive food
service that is equipped to deliver excellence.
8. Value for Money
Migrating to the new rating scheme utilising currently available
FSA grant funding.
Promoting food safety and giving opportunities to 100 poorer
performing food businesses to make improvements to their
ratings in the pre- Olympic period in an initiative funded by the
Improving the food service as a consequence of these activities.
9. Sustainability Impact Appraisal
N/A because the report is for information only.
10. Risk Management
Officer and IT consultant team assembled to deliver FHRS
project by July 2012.
Food officer overseeing Olympic project using food consultants.
Liaison with finance officer for monitoring and probity of grant
expenditure and claims to FSA.
11. Community Safety
12. Links to Strategic Objectives
Environment, housing and culture
To make Ealing a better place to live
Making Ealing Safer
To make Ealing one of the safest places in London
Delivering Value for Money
13. Equalities and Community Cohesion
N/A because the report is for information only.
14. Staffing/Workforce and Accommodation implications:
To ensure the department retains the skills set for delivery of efficient and
effective IT, and level of business administrative support to effectively
sustain ongoing delivery of the FHRS to the business community.
15. Property and Assets
16. Any other implications: N/A
See table below
18. Timetable for Implementation
a) New FHRS:
Field database check and database cleansing Jan – March
Scope Checks Jan – March
1 mail –out to all businesses (in scope and not) March- April
Update list of those in scope April – May
Advisory visits and potential rerating inspections April- May
2 mailshot to in-scope businesses with certs/stickers May-June
Staff training underway
Consistency Framework and new procedures underway
Web site update April- May
Launch – with Media Team support June
b) Pre-Olympic Hygiene initiative
1 round :Engagement and plan of improvements March – April
2 round : Revisits and rerating May-June
Collation of data May-June
Report to FSA June-early July
1. Businesses in scope and outline of safeguard provisions for
businesses ( extract from Consistency Framework Mar 2012).
2. FHRS Rating Categories and Examples of Certificates and Stickers
20. Background Information
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme: Guidance for Local Authorities on
implementation and operation – the Brand Standard January 2012
FSA publication (foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk).
Publications available on FSDA Website – see above.
Name of Post held and Date Date Comments
consultee Department sent to received appear in
consultee from report
Cll Ranjit Dheer Portfolio Holder 28.3.12
Cll Katherine Chair of Regulatory 2.4.12 3.4.12 Feedback on
Crawford Committee several issues
Cll Ray Wall Vice-Chair 2.4.12
Cll Diana Pagan Opposition 2.4.12
Jimmy Umrigar Legal Services 10.4.12 10.04.12 Feedback given
David |Ewart Director of Finance 10.04.12 10.04.12 Feedback given
Decision type: Urgency item?
Report no.: Richard McHardy , Regulatory Services Manager- Business
TeL: 020 8825 7224 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org