Welsh Government plans to introduce a mandatory hygiene rating system across all food outlets in Wales could help prevent a repeat of the 2009 Wrexham E.Coli outbreak according to the town’s AM Lesley Griffiths.
The plans, which were announced on Wednesday, could see 30,000 businesses, including restaurants, takeaways and supermarkets required by law to clearly display food hygiene ratings at their premises.
Wales experienced one of the biggest E.Coli outbreaks ever in the UK in 2005, with 150 people struck down in Cardiff.
Sadly, this also caused one death, which led the Welsh Government set up an enquiry led by Professor Hugh Pennington to look into circumstances surrounding the incident.
In 2009, Wrexham was also subject of an outbreak of the E.Coli 0157 bug which led to the hospitalisation of four people and the jailing of a one man connected with a food outlet in the town.
In a UK first, the Welsh Government has published the proposals in a draft bill for consultation, fulfilling a commitment in the Labour Welsh Governments Programme for Government.
Under the new scheme, businesses will be rated with a score between 0 and 5 – with 0 meaning poor and 5 very good.
The rating will be based on criteria such as how food is prepared, cooked, cooled, stored, premises conditions and food handling standards.
Businesses could also face fines of up to £1000 if they refuse to clearly display their scores, with ratings also being made available to the public online.
Assembly Member for Wrexham, Lesley Griffiths said: “Regrettably, in Wrexham we have experience of the consequences of lapse hygiene standards, which lead to an E.Coli outbreak as recently as 2009.
“Following this, I campaigned for a hygiene rating system not dissimilar to this one to be introduced; on a mandatory basis and covering all food outlets.
“I am therefore very pleased the Welsh Government is announcing this action to ensure information on standards of hygiene at any given food outlet is clearly available to the public, at point of purchase as well as online.
“This will drive up standards across the board in Wrexham and across Wales, whilst enabling consumers to make more informed decisions over their money and their health.
“All of which could prevent outbreaks such as those in Cardiff and Wrexham from taking place in the future.”