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New food grading will improve standards

October 31, 2005

New food grading will improve standards

North Shore City consumers can now make a more informed decision when choosing a restaurant or buying food, with the introduction of a new grading system for food premises.

Shops and eateries throughout the city are being graded from 'A' to 'E' on their standards of cleanliness, food handling and staff training in food safety.

The new system brings North Shore City into line with other councils in the Auckland region who already employ the grading system.

North Shore City Council environmental health team leader, Duffy Visser says the change has come about largely in response to public demand.

"There is an increased level of public awareness regarding food safety issues, and a higher expectation of what is an acceptable standard," she says.

"We are recommending that the grading certificate be displayed at the front entrance of the store or eatery, enabling the public to see the grade without having to enter the premises, and also when it is closed, she says.

The new grades are assigned during regular annual inspections of all food premises in the city and apply for a minimum of three months, after which time proprietors can apply to be re-evaluated.

The 'A' grade designates "very low food safety risk at time of inspection"; the 'B' grade "low food safety risk at time of inspection"; the 'C' grade "some concerns to be addressed"; the 'D' grade "identified risks"; and the 'E' grade "serious risks".

The grading started in April this year and is an ongoing process. The council expects to have graded all food premises by the end of the year.

A searchable database of the city's food premises is now available to the public on the council's website at www.northshorecity.govt.nz

Mrs Visser says an 'A' grade cannot guarantee customers' health at all times but is a snapshot of the conditions and practices observed on the day of the inspection. "It is, however, a very good indication of the level of commitment shown by the operator."

She expects all reputable restaurants and shops to seek the 'A' grade standard.

Customers should look out for the new gradings on the registration certificates which are required to be displayed at the main entrance of all food premises.

Shop and restaurant owners wanting to know more should also check out the council's website or ring Actionline on 486 8600.

ENDS

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