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Consumer law: E-coli outbreak prompts call to publish hygiene scores

A takeaway in Cardiff, Wales has been the location of a recent outbreak of E-coli and victims of poisoning have called on the Welsh Government to force food providers to publicly display their hygiene scores.

The Food Standards Agency has introduced the scheme to help consumers choose where to eat or shop for food by rating providers on a scale of zero to five, where five is the best.

The information about businesses, which includes hygiene data, is available online, but some Welsh people, and ministers, believe that the scores should be placed within the business' premises where consumers can see them.

The mother of a young boy, who died from E.coli poisoning, said: "There is a need to push this legislation through as a matter of urgency. I know there will be a public consultation at the end of the year but this needs to be brought forward.

"This is what consumers have been calling for since the 2005 E.coli outbreak."

The Welsh director of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said: "Mandatory display of food hygiene ratings will help drive up standards across the industry but I'm anxious we don't rush into legislation quickly and risk getting it wrong.

"Wales is going to be the first nation to do this and there's no suggestion the consultation will come back and say we shouldn't - let's get this right for the sake of six months."

But so far, in this recent E.coli outbreak, seven cases have been confirmed in Cardiff and another six are being investigated.

Currently in the UK, the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is running in all areas of Wales, some parts of England and Northern Ireland, and Scotland has its own Food Hygiene Information Scheme.

Since not all local authorities have enforced the Food Standards Agency's scheme, if you want to check an establishment's hygiene score, you'll have to look it up online or ask a member of staff there if they are involved in the scheme.

Related links:
Read more on the story (Wales Online)
Search for food hygiene ratings (FSA)
Read about food poisoning and the law (FindLaw)
Find local specialist solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)