Change to food ratings

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CHANGES are set to be introduced in the way food outlets are rated after council bosses decided to join a national rating scheme.

Hartlepool Borough Council has decided to switch from the Tees Valley Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, which it has been operating since 2007, to the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme administered by the Food Standards Agency.

Council chiefs say they are changing systems to avoid any confusion for customers.

Two free seminars are set to be held to help food businesses in Hartlepool find out more about the new national hygiene rating system that is being launched across the town.

The seminars are to be held at Hartlepool College of Further Education on Monday, March 5, from 5.30pm to 6.30pm and on Wednesday, March 7, from 3pm to 4pm.

Each event will comprise a presentation followed by an opportunity to ask questions.

Jane Kett, the council’s principal environmental health officer (commercial services), said: “The reason we are moving to this new ratings scheme is to ensure that we are part of a successful national scheme supported and promoted by the Food Standards Agency.

“The move will also avoid the sort of confusion that can occur when different schemes are being operated.

“We hope businesses will take the opportunity to find out more about the new scheme by coming along to either of the seminars. There’s no need to book a place.”

The new ratings scheme is to be adopted by the council on April 1 and it will judge food businesses on a scale of zero (urgent improvement necessary), one (major improvement necessary), two (improvement necessary), three (generally satisfactory), four (good) and five (very good).

Representatives of the council’s tourism team will be at both seminars to provide more information on the EAT + campaign which aims to promote the town’s eateries.

Staff from the college will also be highlighting the support they can give to businesses and providing details of their apprenticeship schemes. There will also be an opportunity to have a guided tour of the new college’s facilities.

In addition to the seminars, the Council is also sending letters to all food businesses explaining the new rating system and how it may affect them.