RESTAURANTS, takeaways and cafés will be getting badges of honour – or shame – to let diners know how hygienic they are.
Sunderland has signed up to a national “scores-on-the-doors” scheme, which will see labels handed to catering outlets giving them a star-rating.
Businesses will not be forced to display their scores, but those who fail to will naturally be called into question.
Health chiefs think this will persuade catering businesses to keep clean and stick to the rules.
Environmental health manager John Smith said: “They won’t be compulsory and if they have very bad scores, they won’t be keen to advertise that.
“Three stars means a business basically complies with the guidelines, four is better and five is the hygiene standard that you would hope for.”
Cities such as Newcastle already operate their own scores-on-the-doors scheme.
Mr Smith said Sunderland was waiting for the national Food Standard Agency’s scheme, which launches this month.
Wearsiders can already use Sunderland Council’s website to view food safety scores for every eaterie in the city.
Mr Smith said this would soon be transferring to the national FSA website, which would give it a wider reach.
He was speaking at a meeting of the Safer City scrutiny committee, which was examining the council’s food safety and food law enforcement plans.
Easington MP Grahame Morris, who sits on the influential House of Commons Health Select Committee, is backing the hygiene-rating scheme.
He attended a promotional event for the labelling system as part of Food Safety Week.
Mr Morris said: “We shouldn’t feel we are gambling with our health when we eat out, so it’s great that this scheme can help people judge for themselves whether they consider the hygiene standards of a food outlet to be good enough.
“If customers are looking for a hygiene rating, this will drive businesses to improve.”