CONSUMERS in Lochaber and elsewhere throughout the Highlands have a new way to find out how well caterers and retailers are performing thanks to a new scheme launched in Fort William.
Highland Council is one of the 32 Scottish local authorities taking part in the Food Hygiene Information Scheme.
Under the initiative, food businesses in the area are being given certificates relating to their last hygiene inspection to be voluntarily displayed in their premises. The results will also join the food hygiene ratings for over 27,000 Scottish food businesses that can be found at www.food.gov.uk/ratings
Initially developed by the Food Standards Agency Scotland, the scheme was piloted in Scotland for two years and has the backing of Scottish consumer organisations and industry.
In the Highlands, the scheme will be rolled out over the next two years with the initial launch covering around 1,000 food premises in six areas – east Sutherland (Dornoch, Golspie, Brora); Fort William; Broadford on Skye; Nairn; central Inverness; Dingwall, Conon Bridge and Muir of Ord.
The Fort William launch took place in the council chamber in Lochaber House and saw more than a dozen food businesses presented with their pass certificates. A total of 101 Fort businesses have been given a pass, while six operators have received an improvement required rating.
Alan Yates, Highland Council’s environmental health manager, said: “The scheme will help members of the public make an informed choice about where they choose to eat.
“We estimate about 84 per cent of food businesses passed their last inspection. We hope that these businesses will display their pass certificates and encourage others to improve their standards.
“An ‘improvement required’ rating may be down be down to minor issues but in some cases it may be a result of significant health hazards.
“In these circumstances we will usually use our formal powers to protect the public.
“The publication of inspection ratings should encourage food business operators to fully comply first time with food safety legislation and also to contact council officers once any issues have been rectified.”