Filthy restaurants 'hiding sub-standard hygiene ratings from customers'

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Councils have called for a change in the law to stop filthy restaurants keeping customers in the dark about shocking kitchen conditions.

Many eateries such as takeaways, cafes and pubs choose not to display their food hygiene rating because their low marks put them to shame, according to the Local Government Association.

While businesses in Wales and Northern Ireland are forced to post their score for the public to see, in England there is no legal obligation to reveal the zero to five rating – which is based on factors such as kitchen cleanliness, cooking methods and food management.

But the LGA, which represents councils in England, said that must change after Brexit.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “The post-Brexit review of EU laws gives the Government choices. 

Hidden: Restaurants with poor food hygiene ratings are less likely to display them in view of the public (PA)

“We believe that food hygiene laws need to be strengthened, where necessary, with ‘Scores on the Doors’ ratings being a good area of opportunity to do this.

“With mandatory hygiene rating display already in force in Wales and Northern Ireland, the UK leaving the EU provides a crucial opportunity to toughen up food safety laws by extending the legislation to England as well.”

He added: “The lack of a hygiene rating sticker in a business means customers are left in the dark on official kitchen cleanliness levels when eating or buying food there.”

The call comes after several prosecutions in London over inadequate food hygiene.

Recently a fast food restaurant in west London was ordered to pay nearly £20,000 after mouse droppings were found in the food preparation area. Staff were also revealed to be failing to wash their hands before handling customers’ food.

The restaurant had been given a food hygiene rating of zero.

In another case, a Chinese restaurant in the borough of Waltham Forest was found to be infested with cockroaches. The owner was later ordered to pay £11,576 and banned for life from running a business.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) runs the food hygiene scheme. It is said to be reviewing how businesses are regulated.

According to an FSA survey from 2012, just 32 per cent of food businesses in London put up their ratings in public view.

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