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Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, Arizona, has decided to scrap a longtime scoring system that informed customers how restaurants across the Valley performed in health inspections.
The Arizona Republic reports inspections of the 22,500 food establishments in Maricopa County are still taking place, monitoring things such as kitchen cleanliness, safe food handling and rodent control. The system gave gold awards to restaurants that were among the top 10 percent of their peers in health-inspection scores.
John Kolman, director of the county’s Environmental Services Department, said the decision to scrap the old system was prompted by a new health code, a new computer system and criticisms of the old scoring system by the local restaurant industry. In recent months, he said, county officials met with representatives of the restaurant and hospitality industries to find out what kind of scoring systems they would favor. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from food or water each year.
In its quest for food safety excellence, Dubai has decided to keep restaurants that fail safety inspections a secret. However, the Dubai municipality believes taking corrective and preventive actions is more important than naming and shaming defiant eateries, director of the Food Control Department at the municipality, Khalid Mohammed Sherif Al Awadhi, said. Variations of name and shame has proven a strong incentive in Toronto, Los Angeles, New York City and Sydney (New South Wales). A senior health official told the Canberra Times that Canberrans must not be told which of the city’s restaurants were deemed too unhygienic to serve food, because naming them would undermine the rule of law.
Health Minister Katy Gallagher agreed in February to consider introducing laws similar to those in NSW, where food businesses that fail hygiene inspections are named on a government website.
The censored reports show officials issued 63 warnings in 2009 and 2010 to businesses that failed hygiene checks.
The reports’ most common criticism was that kitchens lacked a sink and soap for washing hands. However, several of the documents described filthy and vermin-infested workplaces, where rotting scraps were piled behind fryers and meat was stored in dangerously warm fridges. Meanwhile, Restaurant and Catering Australia has panned the effectiveness of name-and-shame registers such as NSW’s, saying it sometimes punishes innocent businesspeople. Consumers worried about filthy kitchens full of rotting food will soon know just how clean German restaurants are thanks to a new hygiene rating system set to begin in 2012.
On Thursday, consumer ministers from Germany’s federal states, with the exception of the southern state of Bavaria, agreed to institute a color-coded hygiene rating system that will be clearly posted at the entry of every restaurant in the country.
The German Federation for Food Law and Food Science (BLL) said the program could only work if states were willing to conduct more frequent tests and spend more money. Meanwhile heavy criticism came from the national hotel and gastronomy association DEHOGA, which said current regulations are sufficient.
Consumer Focus Wales says more than 60 schools, nursing homes and hospitals in Wales have sub-standard food hygiene and is calling for full inspection reports to be made available to the public in order to protect vulnerable groups.
BBC News reports the watchdog has published a map showing public institutions with ratings below the satisfactory score. Maria Battle, senior director of Consumer Focus Wales, called for the assembly government to use its new direct powers to ensure food hygiene ratings were displayed at business premises.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Local Government Agency said, "The idea behind the food hygiene rating system is to promote consumer choice and drive up standards in food businesses. Food hygiene ratings can vary from zero (urgent improvement necessary) to five (very good). The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said that its new sanitation regime has significantly exceeded the department’s expectations.
In 2006, the City further strengthened food safety in Toronto by passing a Food Handler Training bylaw that ensures every restaurant has a certified food handler on site at all times.
Which is why 13 years after Los Angeles started posting restaurant inspection grades, nine years after Toronto started posting red-yellow-green restaurant inspection grades, and a year after New York City started posting letter grades, someone in D.C. Cheh believes the grades would decrease the number of hospitalizations caused by foodborne diseases. Bob McDonald, director of the city’s public health inspections division, told the Denver Business Journal the idea is to more quickly penalize and bring about correction of the most severe health violations, and to allow restaurants with less health-endangering issues to correct theirs with less public notice.
Under the new rules, the most-serious violators will be punished the most seriously, and the less-serious violators will be punished with fines but not the massive loss of business that can come with a public notice on their front doors. As more local authorities roll out the scheme over the coming months, more ratings will be published online.
The bright green and black food hygiene stickers showing a rating from zero to five will soon be a feature of shopping centres and high streets, as the FSA, in partnership with local authorities, rolls out its Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Brisbane Times reports that 5,500 food businesses were inspected by the Brisbane City Council this year as part of Eat Safe Brisbane, which rates all city food operators out of five for their compliance to food safety standards.
The businesses covered include restaurants, cafes, bakeries, hotels, prisons, child care centres and food manufacturers.
Businesses with ratings of three stars or more can elect to have their rating displayed at their premises or added to an online database.
Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said those with poor ratings were protected from being named by privacy legislation. Just eight per cent of Brisbane licensed food businesses received a five-star rating, with 26 per cent receiving a four and 45 per cent receiving three. Businesses who receive high ratings will receive lower annual fees and less frequent audits.
Queensland Hoteliers Association chief executive Justin O’Connor said the system would provide an incentive for businesses to do better in terms of food safety compliance.
Norman Hotel general manager Michael Fallon, whose business received a five-star rating, said he would be wary of eateries who had not made their rating public. Baking Industry Association Queensland Paul McDonald said he had little sympathy for businesses who recorded a low rating.
Kolman said he hoped to propose alternatives later this month and post them on the department’s website for citizens to vote on.
Kolman of Maricopa County, rather than just asking the restaurant industry, you may want to ask public health types, and consumers about the kind of grading system they would find valuable. Up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food prepared at foodservice establishments.

In the late 19th century the Australians decided they needed a federal capital, and eventually picked a sheep farm halfway between Melbourne and Sydney. Although located within the Australian state of New South Wales, which includes Sydney, ACT and the federal capital of Canberra can apparently make its own rules – at least regarding restaurant inspection disclosure. A business with a poor rating is generally one that is found on inspection to need to improve standards. The department said that its new restaurant-inspection Web site has received more than 40,000 page views each month, a fivefold increase over the previous year, and the previous Web site. Under this program, restaurants post colour-coded inspection results at the front entrances of restaurants and results are also posted on a searchable website. After the first year of the program, 78 per cent of the premises inspected received a green pass, and compliance with all food safety regulations has now risen to 91 per cent. Food Standards Agency (FSA) is today launching a national food hygiene rating scheme that will help consumers choose where to eat out or shop for food by providing information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, hotels, supermarkets, and other places. The aim is to reduce the one million cases of food poisoning suffered by people each year (I prefer the one in Welsh, upper right).
This is made up of the 21 per cent of businesses who received two stars or less, plus another 23 per cent who opted out of having their rating made public.
Ben Chapman is an associate professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University.
Consumer confidence in the safety of food prepared in restaurants is fragile, varying significantly from year to year, with many consumers attributing foodborne illness to foodservice. However, the reason for a low score could be that the business does not currently have a written procedure for food hygiene. And 72 percent of the restaurants that scored a C on the first inspection (the equivalent of 28 or more violation points) improved to an A or B grade. The DineSafe website now lists 14,755 food establishments, and diners can easily and quickly check the inspection status of any location on the site. The use of restaurant inspection disclosure systems as a means of communicating food safety information.
Whilst the business premises could be spotless, without this written supporting document they could not be scored above a one-star rating. Depending on the type of operation, each premise requires between one and three mandatory inspections a year. Restaurant hygiene information is something consumers desire, and when available, may use to make dining decisions.

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