On Monday night at the Environment Committee there was a report on an audit of the work done by the council's Food Safety Service. This is a good report, it is clear that there is a lot of good work going on in Dundee, and that this work aims to stop bad practice and keep the public safe. What concerns me is that the people of Dundee don’t know about it.
People who have visited restaurants or take-aways may have seen certificates from the Food Hygiene Information Service displayed. It will probably surprise most people to know that it is not mandatory to display this certificate and if there are failings the council cannot insist that they are advertised. Only in the extreme case of closing the premises is there an effective means of reprimanding poorly performing establishments.
It might need a change in legislation but shouldn’t we insist on all food premises displaying their Food Hygiene Information Scheme rating prominently in the premises? Shouldn’t there be an easily accessible website which tells you that a restaurant or a take-away that you are thinking of using has high standards for food hygiene? I've written to Richard Lochhead MSP the Cabinet Secretary responsible for food safety to ask for his views.
A lot of effort is going on here and a significant amount of public money is being spent on food safety, we shouldn’t be coy about sharing the information. Restaurants and take-aways should have nothing to fear from full transparency. It would tell its own story about any establishment that didn’t want full transparency.
We should be concerned about keeping the public safe and ensuring that they are as well-informed as possible.