Mandatory display and declaration of food hygiene ratings England is at least two years away according to the Food Standards Agency, as an investigation has highlighted concerns over takeaway apps. Display is currently only mandatory in Wales and Northern Ireland.
The BBC investigation discovered that half of outlets rated zero by the FSA for food hygiene in Manchester, Bristol and London appear on the JustEat takeway app.
The FSA has said it would ‘encourage’ businesses to declare their rating scores, which can currently only be found by customers on the FSA’s website.
‘Mandatory display of hygiene stickers will require primary legislation, which is likely to be a lengthy process – we estimate at least a couple of years from ministerial approval. At this stage we cannot predict a likely timescale, but we will be presenting our case as soon as an opportunity arises.
They added: ‘We support the display of hygiene ratings where food is sold on-line. It’s perfectly possible for businesses to make this information available to consumers now using the data from our website and we would encourage them to do so.
‘The display of ratings on on-line food platforms is likely to become a requirement for food businesses in Northern Ireland in the near future and is being considered as part of the Welsh legislation and for any statutory scheme in England.’
The Local Government Association is calling for display to be mandatory in England and for this to include online and app takeaway services. The LGA published research earlier this month that found that fewer than half of businesses provide their rating to customers.
A JustEat spokesperson said the company takes food safety ‘extremely seriously’. They added: ‘We actively work to raise standards, for example we now offer free accredited food hygiene training and certification to any restaurant that signs up to our platform.
‘Whenever any potential food safety issues are brought to our attention our restaurant compliance team will review, investigate and liaise with the relevant local authority and Environmental Health Officers as appropriate.
‘We are committed to helping customers make informed decisions and will soon be launching a trial to display food hygiene ratings on our platform across Northern Ireland, to test and learn what customers want.’