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Three-quarters of restaurant inspections done despite Covid workload

Grade on Licences is a food safety and hygiene scoring programme carried out by the Environmental Health section (File photograph)

Inspections were carried out at more than three quarters of the island’s food service outlets despite the diversion of resources to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, a Government spokeswoman said.

She added that it was hoped environmental health teams can soon return to a more regular routine if there were no significant changes in coronavirus variants.

The “grades on licences” scheme was introduced in 2017 to show hygiene and food safety scores recorded for restaurants, cafés, bars, bakeries and takeaway premises.

Results were uploaded to the Government website until 2019.

A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said: “As I’m sure you’re aware, the main focus for the Department of Health in general and the Environmental Health Unit in particular over the last few years has been to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The impact on the environmental health team has been significant in this regard as we realigned and refocused our services.

“With increased Covid-19 work commitments and many food businesses closed during the pandemic, it was quite challenging to complete all the inspections.

“However, we have completed 78 per cent of the programme in 2020 and 2021, quite an achievement during a pandemic.”

She added: “The Environmental Health Unit aims to complete the programme for 2022; however, that will be dependent on ongoing pressures on the team and cannot, therefore, be guaranteed.”

Results for 2020 and 2021 were not included on the Grades on Food Establishment Licences webpage.

The health ministry spokeswoman added: “Our objective is to publish the grades awarded following this year’s inspection programme.

“We will continue to work towards our objectives, however, with allocated resources to Covid within this unit, this has created challenges to these deliverables.

“We do anticipate with the recent changes to the pandemic regimes we will soon see a normalised operation barring any significant changes in variant types.”

The government website explained that the scheme was introduced to let the public know how well Bermuda's food suppliers maintained sanitary standards.

Environmental health officers marked each outlet on factors such as personal hygiene practices, protective clothing for staff and vermin control in annual and unannounced visits.

Premises can score up to 100 points with deductions made for violations dependant on their significance to public health.

An A grade is awarded for 90 to 100 points, 80 to 89 points would get a B, and from 70 to 79 rates a C.

The website added a D grade was “below 70 points and urgent action or consideration of closure is usually indicated for such a score”.

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Published February 16, 2022 at 7:43 am (Updated February 16, 2022 at 7:43 am)

Three-quarters of restaurant inspections done despite Covid workload

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