Hygiene rating system gives restaurants food for thought

Top restaurateurs have attacked a new hygiene rating system on a new council-run website after it placed their exclusive Cambridge restaurants in the lowest category.

Cambridge City Council launched the "Scores on the Doors" website to give people the chance to see how hygienic their local restaurants actually are.

But the results showed restaurants such as the Loch Fyne fish and seafood restaurant in Trumpington Road and Midsummer House, on Midsummer Common, which has two Michelin stars, scoring worse than the catering provided for some schools in the area.

The scores on the website are based on the results of inspections routinely carried out by the food and occupational safety section of environmental services at Cambridge City Council, turning those results into a star rating between one and five, one being poor and five being excellent. Loch Fyne and Midsummer House were shocked at the one-star ratings they had been given.

Russell Morgan, director of Midsummer House, said: "The information on the site is wrong. We have just put in a half a million pounds' worth of kitchen two months ago. The evaluation system is faulty and not only are we appealing, but we will be taking legal advice on the system. The system needs to be re-evaluated. As far as we can tell we have been given this rating as a result of one piece of paperwork. Why not give the public the full reports and not a faulty star rating?"

Nick Wilson, the food and occupational safety manager at the council, said: "There are slip-ups from time to time regarding inspections, but that is why we check our procedures regularly. The information is public information anyway. It's part of the Freedom of Information Act which requires us to reveal this information to people who request it. All we are doing is making this information more accessible."

Low rating leaves top restaurants steaming (Cambridge Evening News, 22 June 2007)