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Food premises should be forced to display hygiene ratings, says LGA

The LGA said councils had seen 'shocking' examples of poor or dangerous hygiene. Credit: Local Government Association/PA

All food premises in England should be forced to display "Scores on the Doors" ratings following Brexit to improve hygiene standards, councils have said.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said current EU laws regulating food safety should be kept after Britain leaves the union. But it has called for the Government to use the opportunity to strengthen them and make the display of hygiene ratings mandatory in England.

Council environmental health teams score food outlets from zero to five based on factors such as kitchen cleanliness, cooking methods and food management.

Businesses in Wales and Northern Ireland are legally required to display their rating but this is not the case in England, where those scoring low marks are less likely to put them on show to customers.

The inside of an oven at a Merseyside restaurant. Credit: Local Government Association/PA

The LGA said businesses including restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, sandwich shops, supermarkets and delicatessens that fail to comply should be fined or prosecuted.

Simon Blackburn, chairman of the LGA's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: "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."

A rat's nest with live babies was found at a bakery in Enfield. Credit: Local Government Association/PA

The LGA said councils had seen "shocking" examples of poor or dangerous hygiene, and always took action to improve standards at rogue food premises.

Mr Blackburn added: "Making the display of hygiene ratings compulsory in England is good for business.

"Not only would it incentivise food outlets to improve or maintain high hygiene standards - which would reduce the risk of illness for customers - it would also improve consumer confidence and save taxpayers' money by reducing the need for, and cost of, enforcement action by councils."