With fewer than half of businesses in England showing their food hygiene ratings to customers, the Local Government Association is calling for displaying ratings to become mandatory in England, as it is in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Currently only 49 per cent of businesses in England display their ratings, according to the LGA which argues that healthy food choices should be included within the ratings system to help tackle the obesity crisis.
The organisation wants mandatory display of hygiene ratings to also apply to online food delivery outlets including on apps. Some 59 per cent of people in the UK now use a website, an app, or a mobile website to order food.
LGA safer and stronger communities board chair Simon Blackburn said: ‘Food hygiene standards and compliance levels have risen since mandatory display of ratings was introduced in Wales and Northern Ireland.
‘Making the display of hygiene ratings compulsory in England would incentivise food outlets to improve or maintain high hygiene standards, reduce the risk of illness for customers, improve consumer confidence and save taxpayers’ money by reducing the need for, and cost of, enforcement action by councils.’
He added: ‘Food hygiene laws need to be strengthened to drive up standards and protect people from being served unsafe food.
‘With more people ordering takeaways online or on their phone, it should be mandatory for businesses in England to display food hygiene ratings on their menus online and on ‘apps’ as well as in their premises.
‘This would remove the risk of customers being left in the dark on official kitchen cleanliness levels when eating or ordering food.’
FSA chair Heather Hancock said: ‘Mandatory display has already made a big difference in Wales and Northern Ireland, pushing up business hygiene standards and giving consumers greater confidence that their food is safe.
‘We’re preparing the case for mandatory display in England and hope to see progress soon.’
An FSA spokesperson added that it had developed ‘a robust case to extend mandatory display to England. We will present this to Ministers at the earliest opportunity, for their approval.’
The FSA said that primary legislation is needed to introduce mandatory displays, which can be ‘a lengthy process, and we also recognise the current pressures on Parliamentary time’.