Byline: MADELEINE BRINDLEY
WALES is poised to become the first part of the UK to make it compulsory for food businesses to display their hygiene ratings.
The Welsh Government is expected to introduce legislation to end the current voluntary arrangements by the end of the year.
Businesses can currently chose whether to display their food hygiene score, which ranges from zero to five. They are also available on the internet.
But campaigners claim making the ratings mandatory will make it easier for consumers to make more informed choices about where they want to eat.
A mandatory scheme could also help drive up food hygiene standards across the industry.
Maria Battle, senior director at Consumer Focus Wales, said: "The Welsh Government announcement that it intends to introduce a new food hygiene law is great news for consumers.
"We know nine out of 10 consumers have told us they want this information so they can make safe choices for themselves and their families. "We're delighted the Welsh Government has taken this step so that Wales will be the first country in the UK to put the scores on the doors - and put consumers in the driving seat when it comes to food hygiene.
"We look forward to developing the legislation with the Welsh Government and making it as good as possible for consumers.
" The food hygiene ratings scheme was introduced in October - all commercial food premises, including school and hospital canteens are given a score between zero and five based on the results of their last hygiene inspection.
A zero score means urgent improvement is necessary, while a five means the standard of food hygiene is very good.
Compelling premises to display their ratings would bring Wales into line with other parts of the world, such as New Zealand, which have mandatory rating schemes.
Julie Barratt, director of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health in Wales, said: "We very much welcome the fact the Welsh Government is leading the way in the UK by seeking to make display of food hygiene ratings compulsory. …