Council considers ‘Scores on Doors’ Program for local eateries 

A report recommending Council adopts a state-wide program that allows for the onsite display of the results of food premises inspections for hygiene and food safety will go before Councillors for consideration on Thursday night. 

The report states Council works closely with the NSW Food Authority through the Food Regulation Partnership (FRP) to ensure safe food and hygienic premises in accordance with the Food Act 2003 and Food Safety Standards. 

The recommendation to Council is that the ‘Scores on Doors’ Program be adopted for food businesses to promote compliance with hygiene and food safety standards, promote consumer trust in food businesses and further the reputation and economy of food businesses in Yass Valley. 

The report states that food businesses’ role in the local community is becoming more important as people’s lives get busier and they source food from outside their homes. Food businesses are also an important part of the local economy creating economic activity and employment, bringing people into the area and retaining those who live and work in it by providing reliable meal options. 

The council and the community benefit from the local food industry and their part in the diverse local economy. At the same time, consumer expectations are rising, in particular, that: 

Food premises have the highest levels of compliance with hygiene and food safety standards, 

Consumers can have access to official information so they can make their own decision about where they eat, and  

Council activities such as food inspections are not only done but are seen to be done. 

The report details that Council undertakes food inspections to ensure compliance with hygiene and food safety requirements. Whilst an educative approach is undertaken, compliance action in line with Council’s Enforcement Policy is undertaken where necessary. Food premises issued with on-the-spot Penalty Notices may appear on the NSW Food Authority’s high-profile’ Name and Shame’ register. However, the opportunity exists for Council to be proactive in providing transparency around the inspections as well as an additional incentive for businesses to maintain and increase their inspection results, thereby improving the quality of local food premises. To further support Council’s significant work in this area, Council has the opportunity to participate in the Scores on Doors program. 

The Scores on Doors program is focused on retail food service businesses that process and sell food that is ready to eat, intended for immediate consumption, and potentially hazardous if not handled correctly and under the right conditions. These are the higher-risk premises that have the greatest potential to cause foodborne illness if food is not handled correctly. These businesses include restaurants, pub bistros, hotels, takeaway outlets, cafes, bakeries and Clubs. 

Scores on Doors is not intended for supermarkets, delicatessens,  greengrocers, low-risk food premises or businesses that serve pre-packaged food such as service stations and convenience stores,  temporary markets, mobile food vending vehicles, or businesses that hold a NSW Food Authority licence and are separately audited such as butchers.

The voluntary Program was first piloted in 2010 and was then expanded to a trial in 2011-2012. 

If adopted by Council on Thursday night, the Program would run as follows: 

Following Council’s existing routine inspections, eligible food premises would receive a hygiene and food safety rating based on points allocated under the Scores on Doors guidelines, akin to a demerit system based on the standard Food Premises Assessment Report that Council uses, which promotes consistency in points allocation 

NSW Food Authority provides the certificates and stickers free of charge to the Council for each of the three ratings: Good, Very Good or Excellent; businesses assessed with critical breaches or too many lesser breaches are not awarded any grade or certificate/sticker 

Certificates and stickers can be issued on the spot at the time of the inspection or sent out shortly afterwards. 

The rating certificate would be displayed on the front window or near the entrance to the premises.