BANBRIDGE District Council is celebrating the success of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme one year on - and after a further seven district councils signed up last week.
The latest additions bring the number of district councils now rating food businesses on their hygiene practices to 24 and by the end of this year all 26 Northern Ireland councils should be on board.
The scheme is operated by the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland in partnership with district councils and was launched last June in Northern Ireland in 17 council areas, including Banbridge.
This month, the council areas of Antrim, Ballymena, Limavady, Lisburn, Moyle, Larne and Newtownabbey have joined the rating project.
Food businesses are rated on a scale of zero to five and around three quarters of food businesses in Northern Ireland have received one of the top two ratings.
Gillian Topping, head of Environmental Health at Banbridge District Council, said, “Over the past year, the interest from food businesses in the Banbridge Council area has been exceptional, with many recognising that a good food hygiene rating is good for business.
“At present, 83 per cent of food businesses in the district have achieved a rating of four or five-out-of-five. The benefits of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme means local businesses recognise they all operate on a level playing field when it comes to environmental health.”
All food businesses are subject to regular hygiene inspections by food safety officers and, dependent on the results of these, ratings may change, so the council has urged consumers to check the ratings regularly - either by looking out for the sticker or certificate at the premises or by going online to food.gov.uk/ratings.
Margretta Henning from Superfry commended the scheme, saying, “We have found the scheme a real opportunity for food businesses like ours to showcase how seriously we take food hygiene.
“It’s easy for consumers to use and it has actually brought more business to food outlets like ours who take pride in our rating.”