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Mandatory ratings on cards

Corin Williams29/07/2011 - 16:00

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Food businesses in Wales may be required to display their hygiene rating, under plans announced by Carwyn Jones, Welsh Government first minister.

Setting out an ambitious five-year legislative programme covering a wide range of public health initiatives, Mr Jones said the 2005 E. coli outbreak had put food safety at the top of the agenda. But he warned that voluntary agreements with businesses over displaying their ratings had led to a ‘lack of coverage’.

All 22 Wales local authorities have implemented the Food Standards Agency’s food hygiene rating system, with more than 5,000 premises signed up. Mr Jones’ proposal for a draft Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (Display of Information) (Wales) Bill would require all restaurants and other food businesses to advertise their score.

He said: ‘It will allow the Welsh government to make mandatory arrangements for providing consumers with easily understandable, at-a-glance information on the hygiene standards of a food business.’

Julie Barratt, director of CIEH Wales, said: ‘At the moment, premises can elect whether to display their rating or not. The CIEH has been pressing for rating displays to become mandatory. This announcement is vital as it will allow members of the public to make an informed choice.’

Other health protection measures put forward by Mr Jones include requiring parental consent before allowing children to undergo cosmetic piercing. A consultation on the proposals will be launched ‘shortly’.

Mr Jones said: ‘Over a quarter of people who have a cosmetic piercing procedure, other than the earlobes, experience complications. Informed parental consent will ensure that parents are aware of their child’s desire to have a cosmetic piercing and the possible implications.’

It is also possible that smoking in cars with children present will be outlawed if smoking rates in the country do not fall within the next three years, although the details of the plan are unclear. Dr Tony Jewell, chief medical officer for Wales, backed the call using research on airborne particulates from smoking in cars commissioned by the CIEH.

A housing bill is also on the cards, with the explicit aim of improving vulnerable residents’ health and wellbeing. It is understood the bill could introduce a mandatory licensing scheme for the private rented sector.

Mr Jones said: ‘The bill will enable us to meet our manifesto commitments, which include tackling homelessness, as well as improving standards and tenants’ rights in the private rented sector.

‘With more people having to opt for accommodation in the private rented sector due to continuing difficulties in obtaining mortgages, we will seek to improve the quality of accommodation to enhance the sector’s image as an acceptable housing choice.’

An environment bill will also be introduced during the lifetime of the parliament to ‘deliver ecological gains whilst easing the regulatory burden’.

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