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More than 90% of restaurants get top grades in health inspections

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

More than 90 per cent of food service businesses were ranked in the top two levels of a grading system for hygiene and health standards after checks by environmental health officials.

Figures showed that 129 restaurants, cafés and takeaways scored an “A” and the same number achieved a “B”.

Another 22 establishments were ranked “C” and a single food outlet scored a “D”.

Awards were made at 281 businesses, which meant that almost 92 per cent were found to be within the top two levels of the scale.

Grades were collated in a September 2022 list – the first published since June 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic meant that services at the Environmental Health unit were "realigned and refocused“.

A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said last week: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been very challenging for everyone on the island.

“We in the Department of Health recognise that businesses have struggled with managing how the pandemic affected them, such as closures.

“Positive cases impacted staff and their ability to operate.

“Also, ensuring compliance with the hygiene regulations and the various changes to regulations aimed at managing the pandemic in some cases impacted their operations.

“At the same time, the Environmental Health section of the department has had to refocus its efforts on managing the pandemic; this has included protecting the air and seaports, providing advice and assistance to businesses on how to comply with the changing regulatory framework, investigating outbreaks of Covid-19 etc.

“Now that we appear to be in a much better place in terms of Covid-19, we felt it was right to reinstate the issuing of the establishment grades.

“This reflects that businesses have returned to a more normal working environment.”

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.

Annual inspections are unannounced.

The government website explained: “Environmental health officers score the food establishment on items such as temperature control of food, personal hygiene practices, protective clothing for staff, and vermin control using a standard inspection form.

“Establishments are scored on a 100-point scale. Each item has an assigned point value.

“When there’s a violation, inspection points are deducted from the score.

“Points are deducted from that score based on public health significance eg food temperature control is a critical item and is given more points.

“The higher number of points a food establishment scores overall, the better the grade attained.”

The ministry spokeswoman said: “We feel that the scheme has successfully raised awareness of the importance of maintaining high health and hygiene standards within their premises.

“Officers have noted that businesses are keen to obtain advice on improving their ratings and have implemented changes in the management of their establishments to gain a better grade.”

She added: “We feel that business owners are happy to be able to demonstrate to customers through the display of their grade how they are ensuring high levels of hygiene and safety within their premises.”

The government website explained that 90 to 100 points secured an “A”, 80 to 89 points earned a “B” and 70 to 79 points resulted in a “C”.

It added: “'D’ is below 70 points and urgent action or consideration of closure is usually indicated for such a score.

“Some critical violations must be corrected immediately to remove an imminent risk to health.

“Annually issued food licences, displayed inside establishments, will show the grade category from the most recent food safety inspection report, if the grade is A or B.”

The health ministry spokeswoman said that new businesses were given a non-graded licence that lasted for three months before they are reinspected and a rank is awarded.

Some food establishments were attributed a “0” in the latest published list but that was said to be an administrative error.

The ministry spokeswoman explained: “For those that had ‘0’, they are still in progress.

“As some of these establishments opened later, they were inspected later than usual.”

To see the lists of food establishment grades, visitwww.gov.bm/grades-food-establishment-licences

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Published October 06, 2022 at 8:38 am (Updated October 06, 2022 at 8:38 am)

More than 90% of restaurants get top grades in health inspections

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