Ballymoney Celebrates Food Safety Week

Ballymoney Borough Council is among the first in the UK to roll out a major nationwide scheme designed to inform people about the food hygiene ratings of local food outlets.

The new Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS), which launched today at Belfast’s Café Vaudeville to mark the start of Food Safety Week in Northern Ireland, rates the food hygiene standards of over 11,000 local businesses where people can eat or buy food, from cafes and restaurants to supermarkets and delis.

Consumers can check out these ratings at www.food.gov.uk/ratings or simply look out for the striking green and black stickers and certificates inside food businesses.

The new FHRS is operated by the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland in partnership with Ballymoney Borough Council and 16 other district councils throughout the region. The national Northern Ireland launch coincides with the scheme being rolled out in Wales and England.

Under the scheme, food businesses are rated on a scale of zero to five with zero meaning ‘urgent improvement necessary’ and the top rating of five representing a ‘very good’ standard of food hygiene.

Speaking at the launch of the new FHRS Michael Jackson, Head of Food Safety and Operations, Food Standard Agency in NI, said: “The aim of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is to help people make informed choices around the purchase of food – wherever they eat or shop. Would-be diners can now ‘look before they book’ by checking out the Food Hygiene Rating online at www.food.gov.uk/ratings. People can also look out for the scheme’s new green and black stickers and certificates that food businesses are being encouraged to visibly display in premises, not just in Northern Ireland, but throughout the UK”

Also commenting on the scheme Bryan Edgar, Deputy Director Borough Services advised: “The interest from food businesses in Ballymoney has been cautiously received with the majority of premises getting one of the top three ratings. Our local food businesses understand that getting a good food hygiene rating is going to be good for business.”

The scheme uses information from routine food hygiene inspection programmes carried out by council environmental health staff. It is being rolled out by participating councils and the Food Standards Agency as part of a transparent UK - wide approach to food hygiene meaning would-be diners can be assured the ratings of their local chippy will be consistent with a potential holiday hotel across the water.

The new Food Hygiene Rating Scheme goes live in participating councils across Northern Ireland from June 6 2011. Anyone wanting to find out more about the scheme or check out food hygiene ratings can log on to www.food.gov.uk/ratings.

For more information on Food Safety Week – log on to food.gov.uk