The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has finally started rolling out is national food hygiene rating scheme that encourages retailers and foodservice operators to voluntarily display their hygiene ‘scores on the doors’.

The bright green and black food hygiene stickers, showing a rating from zero to five, will soon be a feature of bakery retailers, cafés and supermarkets, as the FSA, in partnership with local authorities, introduces the scheme across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The aim is to reduce the one million cases of food poisoning suffered by people each year.

Following inspections by local council food safety officers, the hygiene standards are rated on a scale ranging from zero at the bottom (which means ‘urgent improvement necessary’) to a top rating of five (‘very good’).

Currently, councils use a variety of systems for rating businesses, including stars and smiley faces. It is hoped the new voluntary scheme will replace these over time to leave one easily understood system.

A snapshot survey, recently carried out for the FSA, indicated that more than eight in 10 members of the public (86%) consider hygiene standards to be extremely important when eating out, significantly outweighing other considerations, such as price and location.

The public will be able to look up companies’ ratings on