South Somerset District Council to introduce charges for food hygiene re-inspections

Food businesses looking for re-visits for a food hygiene re-rating score will now have to pay a fee from April this year.

South Somerset District Council's Executive Committee approved the proposal to introduce a cost recovery fee for the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme re-rating requests in the district which is in-line similar to neighbouring authorities.

The new fee of £115, which comes into effect from 1st April 2018, will only apply to businesses that request a further hygiene inspection and will cover the costs of doing this.

The Food Standards Agency has recently reviewed its guidance on charging a fee for requested re-inspections to be re-assessed for a food hygiene rating. The Agency considered that providing a re-inspection upon request by a food business operator, in circumstances where there is no statutory requirement to provide that re-inspection, falls within the general power that allows for the recovery of costs.

When a food business receives a food hygiene inspection from one of the Council's Food Safety Officer's, a hygiene rating score ranging from 0 to 5 will be issued at the end of that visit.

There are currently 1,200 food businesses in the South Somerset area that hold the top level rating of 5, meaning they have very good hygiene conditions. Businesses assessed with a rating between 0 to 4 are able to apply to be re-assessed and re-rated, once the hygiene improvements have been addressed.

Current guidelines demand a "stand-still" period following application before a re-visit can be considered. Now, following receipt of the fee, the "stand-still" period will no longer apply and the re-rating inspection will be carried out within three months, meaning improved scores can be displayed more quickly.

Councillor Val Keitch, Portfolio Holder for Environmental Health at South Somerset District Council said, "Whilst implementing a fee-based service allows the District Council to recover costs, it also allows food premises to quickly have a re-inspection to be re-assessed so they can display their food hygiene score quicker.

"Our Food Officers have a really good relationship with food premises and give great advice and guidance. In the food industry, that advice and guidance is highly valuable and helps to ensure that business runs smoothly and any potential issues with hygiene are addressed in the correct way".

The scheme's distinctive green and black window stickers, introduced throughout South Somerset in 2011, allow consumers to make informed choices about the places they eat or shop for food and, through these choices, encourage businesses to improve their hygiene standards.

If you are looking to make an informed choice about the place you eat or shop for food, visit http://ratings.food.gov.uk/ to search for food hygiene ratings.