A RATING scheme aimed at improving food hygiene standards has seen a rise in the number of establishments getting the top grading.
Hartlepool Borough Council takes part in the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) to help residents choose where is best to eat out or shop for food. It is aimed at everywhere including restaurants, cafes, take-aways and shops.
The grading goes from zero (urgent improvement), one (major improvement needed), two, (improvement needed), three (satisfactory), four (good) and five (very good).
Figures show the number getting the top rating has risen from 434 in 2013 – or 60.9 per cent of businesses – to 456 this year, or 66.7 per cent.
The overall number “broadly complying” has also risen in the past year from the 684 premises rated.
For the second year running no businesses were given a zero rating, but seven still need major improvement.
Public protection chiefs say they will continue to work closely with those failing to match the high standards and “where necessary” enforcement action will be taken against those with a grading of two or less.
In April 2012, the council switched from the Tees Valley Food Hygiene Award scheme to the FHRS scheme, which was launched by the Food Standards Agency. The latest figures were presented to a meeting of the regeneration services committee.
Louise Wallace, the council’s director of public health, said: “As of April 1, 97.7 per cent of businesses in the borough were ‘broadly compliant’ with food safety requirements. In 2013 the figure was 95.1 per cent.
“For food standards 97.1 per cent of businesses achieved broad compliance, and we aim to concentrate our resources to further increase our current rate by the end of 2014-15.
“However, given the current financial climate this will be extremely challenging.”
Mrs Wallace added: “During 2013-14 the service completed 100 per cent of all programmed food hygiene, food standards and food hygiene interventions planned for the year.
“In total 412 food hygiene interventions were completed, 267 food standards and 31 feed hygiene interventions.
“In addition to the planned interventions 84 new food businesses were registered and inspected during the year.”