Scores on Doors pilot seeks feedback from public and industry

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 16th November 2010

The NSW Food Authority’s Scores on Doors initiative, an Australian first in delivering a standardised, state-wide system to rate the food safety and hygiene standards of foodservice businesses, is being developed in close consultation with industry and local government, NSW Food Authority CEO Alan Coutts said today.

“The purpose of the Scores on Doors initiative is to benefit the consumer and drive up standards in the food industry,” Coutts said.

“This is about improving transparency and accountability.

“There is strong consumer demand for information about the safety of the food people purchase and eat. The Scores on Doors pilot provides the consumers of NSW with point of sale information that shows how well foodservice businesses comply with food hygiene standards during inspections.”

A six month pilot of the system was commenced on 1 July 2010 with 20 councils across NSW volunteering to take part. “The very purpose of this pilot is to trial the system and get feedback from participants, consumers and industry and incorporate that feedback in our assessment of the trial before a state wide roll out of the voluntary program in 2011,” Coutts said.

The pilot is being undertaken using a standardised inspection checklist to get a more consistent inspection program across NSW.

“We are well aware there are a variety of factors to be taken into account when assessing the program in action and we welcome any feedback to help us in developing the best system possible.”

Industry is being closely consulted during the pilot through the Hospitality Industry Working Group and the Food Regulation Forum’s Retail and Food Service Advisory Group. The Authority is also seeking feedback directly from participating businesses, industry groups and associations, consumers and consumer groups.

One issue that has been raised by some sectors of industry and some local councils has been the use of letters (ABC) versus symbols (eg stars) to indicate the performance of a business. It is appreciated that a number of participating businesses prefer a star system, however, the letter grading was chosen for the pilot after consideration of overseas research and similar systems in place across the world.

“We have a simple, user friendly survey set up on our website that allows consumers to have their say about what sort of system they’d prefer,” Mr Coutts said.

“The NSW Food Authority will review the proposed system at the completion of the pilot based upon the feedback we receive from all stakeholders.”

“In addition we will survey business, councils and consumers upon completion of the pilot.”

Since the pilot began in July 321 businesses in the participating council areas have signed up to take part in the Scores on Doors pilot.

“Under the pilot, an “A” grade is excellent, “B” is good and “C” is acceptable. A “P” grade means the grade is pending, it is issued when an inspection has led to compliance action or identified improvements that need to be made,” Mr Coutts explained.

To date 211 have been inspected, with 166 receiving an A grade, 32 a B grade, 11 a C grade and 2 awarded a P grade.