The City of London Corporation is clamping down on dishonest restaurants who display inaccurate food hygiene ratings in their windows.
Recent spot checks by the City Corporation’s Trading Standards officers found that out of 140 food premises visited, 22 of them (16%) were displaying a Food Hygiene Rating Scheme sticker higher than they were entitled to.
Trading Standards subsequently visited the offending premises and oversaw the removal of the inaccurate stickers.
Each visit was followed up with a written warning to the food business, reminding them of their legal obligations to ensure that consumers were not being misled.
The Food Standards Agency oversees the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. Every City premises serving food is subject to a thorough inspection by City Corporation Environmental Health Officers who give a rating from zero (Urgent Improvement Necessary) through to five (Very Good).
Once an inspection has been carried out, the food business is provided with a green rating sticker which can be displayed in its window.
The score is loaded onto the publicly available FSA website so that consumers can check hygiene ratings before they visit.
Jeremy Simons, chair of the City Corporation’s Port Health and Environmental Services Committee, said: “The rights of consumers to make informed choices about the food they eat is something we take very seriously. Where we have found restaurants being dishonest, we have acted quickly to rectify the situation.
“Food hygiene standards are very high in the City with 96% of outlets having a rating of three or more. But we will continue to work with the other premises to ensure they understand the importance of upholding the best standards in their businesses.”
Angela Towers, head of the Food Standards Agency’s food hygiene rating team, said: “People have a right to trust that the hygiene rating displayed in a restaurant’s window is accurate and we are pleased that the City of London Corporation has taken action against a small minority of food businesses who have sought to mislead the public.”
At present, it is not mandatory for food premises to display the sticker. However, the City of London Corporation supports a change in the law requiring food outlets to display their score publicly.
There are approximately 1,800 food premises in the City of London, one of the highest densities in the UK.