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TITLE OF REPORT Publication of Food Hygiene Inspection Report

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REPORT TO CABINET
17 April 2007

TITLE OF REPORT:

Publication of Food Hygiene Inspection Report Information on the Council Web Site

REPORT OF:

Derek Quinn, Group Director, Development and Enterprise

Purpose of the Report 1. The purpose of this report is to recommend that Cabinet agrees to the publication of information from Environmental Health Officer’s food hygiene inspection reports of food premises in Gateshead. Background 2. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 makes public bodies, including councils more transparent and accountable and creates a right of access to information. Nationally, there has been considerable public interest in information about food hygiene inspections, especially caterers. Many local authorities are now using their web sites to identify the standards that food premises are achieving, improving consumer choice. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has recognised the value of public information schemes and is working with some local authorities before introducing a national model in the future. In the mean time local authorities are devising their own systems for the publication of data. An important outcome is that publishing food hygiene information will improve standards. Inspections by Environmental Health Officers include detailed assessments to produce a risk score, which in turn dictates the inspection frequency. This data can be used to provide information about compliance with food safety standards and each element can be classified from very poor to excellent. Proposal 5. It is proposed that all of the inspection reports of Gateshead’s food premises inspected after 31 April 2007 are subject to publication on the Council’s website. Appendix 2 identifies the information to appear on the web site and Appendix 3 gives an example of how the information will appear. Recommendations 6. It is recommended that Cabinet agrees to the publication of food hygiene inspection information as described in Appendices 2 and 3, of all food premises inspected after 31 April 2007.

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For the following reasons: (i) It will improve public access to information held by the Council and enable consumers to make informed choices about whether to use a food outlet. It will help to further improve food hygiene standards.

(ii)

CONTACT: Peter Wright

extension: 3910

PLAN REF: 2932

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APPENDIX 1 Policy Context . 1. Publication of food hygiene inspection information will help to improve food hygiene standards and in doing so, contribute to the Council’s visions for Health, as outlined in the Community Strategy and Towards 2010, “Local people living longer and healthier lives”. It also supports the Council’s vision for customer service by people gaining access to Council services via the Internet. The scheme is considered to be consistent with Freedom of Information legislation. The Information Commissioner has ruled in favour of disclosing inspection information where local authorities have been challenged for withholding it. Background 4. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 was introduced to make public bodies at every level more transparent and accountable. The Act creates a general right of access to information held by public authorities. Since 1 January 2005, there has been considerable public interest about information that local authorities hold on food premises, especially caterers. Many local authorities have responded to this by using their web sites to identify the standards that food premises are achieving. This helps consumers to make informed choices about which food premises they want to use. The value of publishing information about Environmental Health Officer’s inspection reports has been recognised by the Government and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has introduced a number of pilot schemes before deciding on a national model. It is anticipated that a future national model will require this information, including an overall star rating and possibly a narrative report. In the mean time local authorities are devising their own systems for the publication of data that will fit into any future national model. Inspections by Environmental Health Officers include a detailed assessment of various factors that make up a risk score, which in turn dictates the inspection frequency. This can be used to provide information about compliance with food safety procedures, structural standards and confidence in management. Each element will be classified from very poor to excellent. It is anticipated that publishing food hygiene information will improve standards because owners will want to ensure that their businesses are shown in the best possible light. A scheme for Gateshead is shown in Appendix 2 and an example of how it will appear on the Council web site is shown in Appendix 3. Software will allow officer’s data from inspections to be automatically taken from the service computer system and sent to the web site. It will be easy for consumers to get the information they want from the web site. It is in line with guidance provided by the FSA These schemes will help the FSA with their Strategic Plan 2005-2010, which aims to reduce the incidence of food borne illness by 20%. The FSA is therefore pleased 3

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to see initiatives by Councils that will help improve food hygiene standards. In addition, the Agency believes that having access to food hygiene information enables consumers to make informed choices about whether to use a particular food outlet. Consultation 9. The Cabinet Members for Health, and Employment and Economy have been consulted on this report. Alternative Options 10. There is no alternative option other than not agreeing to publish this information. Implications of Recommended Options 11. Financial Implications – The Strategic Director, Finance and ICT confirms that the costs of implementing this scheme will be met from existing budgets. Risk Management Implications – Some local authorities have been concerned that publication of food hygiene information on a web site could lead to Court action against them. However the Food Standards Agency has received advice that it is legal for Councils to publicise the information. Human Resources Implications – There are no human resources implications of the recommended option. Equality and Diversity Implications – Publishing information about food hygiene standards assists in the process of fair and consistent enforcement activity. Crime and Disorder Implications – There are no crime or disorder implications with respect to this report. Sustainability Implications – There are no sustainability implications with respect to this report. Human Rights Implications – There are no Human Rights Act implications with respect to this report. Public access to information held by the Council about food hygiene standards in food premises will enable consumers to make informed choices about where they purchase food. Ward Implications – This report affects all wards equally. Background Information 19. These documents have been considered in preparation of the report:  “Scores on the Doors” – a guidance document from the Food Standards Agency

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APPENDIX 2

Publication of Food Hygiene Inspection Report Information on the Council Web Site
Gateshead Council is responsible for inspection of food businesses within the Borough. This is undertaken in line with the Food Law Code of Practice issued by the Food Standards Agency The publication of Food Hygiene Inspection Reports will apply to all registered food premises that carry out the production, processing and distribution of food. Some premises, however, are considered to be very low risk and may be subject to alternative interventions other than inspection. They will, therefore, not receive a star rating. Primary inspections are carried out at food businesses in accordance with the inspection rating scheme in the Food Law Code of Practice. An assessment is completed at the end of each primary inspection using the criteria contained in the Code. There are eight criteria on which scores are based. Three of the categories will be used to build up the Food Safety Score on which the Food Safety Star Rating will be produced. These criteria are the only ones that are under the direct control of the food business operator. The three criteria used in the Star Rating scheme are:   Standards of food hygiene Standards of structure Confidence in management

The sum of the three elements is then converted into the star rating as follows;Star Rating Rating Excellent Rating Description Excellent record of compliance. Standards are high and conform to industry codes with competent management.. Standards are generally high with a reasonable management record. Score

*****

0-5

**** *** ** *
No stars

Very Good

6 - 15

Good

Some non compliance with statutory obligations but standards are being maintained or improved. Satisfactory Some major non compliance with obligations. More effort is needed to prevent fall in standards. Poor General failure to satisfy obligations with low standards. Poor management knowledge. Very Poor Almost total non compliance with obligations and poor management track record.

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26 - 35

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It is intended that the scheme will be implemented for those inspections completed after 31 April 2007. The rating will only be applied after primary inspections and will only be rerated at the next programmed primary inspection. All food businesses will be informed of the scheme prior to implementation. The rating will be published on the Councils website within two weeks of the inspection. Where a food business believes that an inspection has resulted in an unfair rating of the hygiene standards, an appeal can be made to the Environmental Health and Trading Standards Manager. A response will be given within 2 weeks.

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APPENDIX 3 AN EXAMPLE OF INFORMATION ON THE WEB SITE Food Hygiene – Inspections Results ABC Catering 1 Front Street Gateshead NE8 1AA

Inspection details Type of business Date of last inspection Risk Band Minimum inspection frequency Overall rating Overall rating Compliance ratings Compliance with hygiene legislation Compliance with structural legislation Confidence in Management Full Hygiene Rating Scores Type of food handled Method of processing Consumers at risk Compliance with hygiene legislation Compliance with structural legislation Confidence in management Risk of contamination Vulnerable groups 30 0 5 5 5 5 0 0 Very Good Very Good Very Good **** Café/Restaurant 20 January 2007 C Every 18 months

PUBLICATION SCHEME FOR FOOD PREMISES When a premises is inspected for Food Hygiene the Food Standards Agency requires the inspecting officer to establish a risk rating based on what they find. It is this risk rating that determines how often a premises is inspected depending on the food safety risk it presents. Some elements of that scoring will be used to determine the rating a premises receives. These are:

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PROCEDURES (PRACTICES, TEMPERATURE CONTROL): Score Guidance Excellent 0 High standard of compliance; conforms to accepted good practice. Very 5 High standard of compliance. Some minor non-compliance Good Good 10 Some non-compliance. Standards are being maintained or improved Fair 15 Some major non-compliance - more effort required to prevent fall in standards Poor 20 General failure to comply - standards generally low Very Bad 25 Almost total non-compliance STRUCTURE (CLEANLINESS, LAYOUT, CONDITION, FACILITIES) Score Guidance Excellent 0 High standard of compliance; conforms to accepted good practice Very 5 High standard of compliance. Some minor non-compliance Good Good 10 Some non-compliance. Standards are being maintained or improved. Fair 15 Some major non-compliance - more effort required to prevent fall in standards Poor 20 General failure to comply - standards generally low Very Bad 25 Almost total non-compliance CONFIDENCE IN MANAGEMENT Score Guidance Excellent 0 Good record of compliance. Access to technical advice within organization. Will have satisfactory documented HACCP based food safety management system that may be subject to external audit process. Audit by Food Authority confirms compliance with documented management system with few/minor conformities not identified in the system as critical control points Very Good 5 Reasonable record of compliance. Technical advice available and used. Have all of the required documents and records based on a HACCP food safety management system. Able to demonstrate effective control of hazards. General compliance with documented systems that are in place. Good 10 Satisfactory record of compliance. Access to and use of technical advice. May have some of the required documents and records based on a HACCP food safety management system. Fair needs 20 Varying record of compliance. Poor appreciation of hazards and improvement control measures. No HACCP based food safety management system. Poor needs 30 Poor track record. Little or no technical knowledge. Little or no improvement appreciation of hazards or quality control. No HACCP based food safety management system.

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EXPLANATION OF RATINGS Overall Rating Star Rating ***** Rating Excellent Rating Description Excellent record of compliance. Standards are high and conform to industry codes with competent management.. Standards are generally high with a reasonable management record. Score

0-5

****

Very Good

6 - 15

***

Good

**

*

No stars

Some non compliance with statutory obligations but standards are being maintained or improved. Satisfactory Some major non compliance with obligations. More effort is needed to prevent fall in standards. Poor General failure to satisfy obligations with low standards. Poor management knowledge. Very Poor Almost total non compliance with obligations and poor management track record.

16 - 25

26 - 35

36 - 45

>46

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