A nationwide ratings system for food hygiene needs to be implemented as soon as pos-sible, bakery retailers have told British Baker.

The Food Standards Agency is currently consulting on a nationwide ’Scores on the Doors’ scheme, which finishes in August. Under the voluntary proposals, all food businesses will be asked to display the results of hygiene inspections in their shops.

But until the new scheme is implemented, bakeries and cafés are stuck with a range of approaches, depending on their local authority, with some using five-star ratings systems and others using symbols.

The current system is "subjective rather than objective" and unfair according to Thomas Adams, managing director of Northampton craft bakery Oliver Adams, while Mike Holling, retail operations director of Birds of Derby said the system "does need uniformity". Birds’ shops are currently covered by 13 different health authorities. Holling said: "Some are working to a three-star system, some to a five-star and some authorities haven’t got around to it yet."

Other bakery retailers say they would support Scores on the Doors, even though the current system is not causing them problems. Coughlans MD Sean Coughlan said he would support a nationwide scheme, but pointed out that all businesses should be working to set hygiene standards, whatever the system.

President of the National Association of Master Bakers Chris Beaney said environmental health officers can have differing approaches and often concentrate on paperwork rather than on how clean the bakery is. "As long as we’re treated the same way and know what the rules are, we’ll be OK," he said.

The FSA’s board is expected to confirm details of the scheme before the end of the year.

l Food and drink sector skills council Improve has called on the government to untangle the "spaghetti of bureaucracy" faced by smaller firms. Speaking at a Parliamentary debate, called ’Building the Next British Food Brand’, chief executive Jack Matthews said that a recurring theme in small companies was the regulatory burden in areas such as health and safety and food hygiene, squeezing resources from other areas of the business.


=== In Short ===

== Bakery sale ==

Scottish bakery M Corson Bakers, based in Castle Douglas, has been put up for sale as a going concern for £1.25 million. The bakery, founded in the 1800s, is seeking a buyer for its main retail site and bakehouse in Castle Douglas and its three other retail shops in Castle Douglas, Dalbeattie and Kirkcudbright, which are all included in the sale.

== Revamped Nichols ==

The first of North East Bakery’s rebranded Nichols retail shops opened in Crowtree, Sunderland, on 16 July. The 14 outlets acquired from Milligan’s Bakeries are being refitted and rebranded over the next 12 months, with another planned to open in Cramlington next month, and in Newcastle in September.

== Consumers go over to the dark side ==

Sales of dark chocolate have increased dramatically, according to a report by Mintel, and could overtake its milky rival as heath-conscious chocoholics’ choice of indulgence. Sales have increased by 96% between 2005 and 2007 and hit £85m last year.

== Salute to Sargents ==

Sargents Bakeries will be one year old on 27 July this year, and will celebrate the success of its month-on-month growth. The business, owned by Australian businessman Ian Allen, took over the site of Oakdale Bakery in Doncaster after it closed at the end of 2006. It now supplies major and independent retailers with products including cherry bakewells and jam tarts.

== Bakery invaded ==

Ford’s the Bakers was among five town-centre shops raided over the weekend in Berwick, Northumberland. Thieves broke in and reportedly stole around £200 from the shops.