"Look Before You Book" Festive Food Advice
Published Wednesday 4th December 13
Ribble Valley residents are being advised "look before you book" and not let food poisoning ruin their festive celebrations.
All food premises in Ribble Valley, including restaurants, cafes, takeaways, sandwich shops, food retailers and supermarkets, have star ratings from five to zero for food hygiene.
They are assessed on a wide range of criteria, such as the preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage of food, as well as effective pest control and waste disposal; whether employees are suitably supervised, instructed or trained in food hygiene; and the premises in a good state of repair.
The scheme, called the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, enables consumers to make informed choices about where they buy or eat food.
Ribble Valley Borough Council's environmental health manager, James Russell, said: "Consumers spend a significant amount of money on food during the festive season and this scheme enables them to know how a food outlet is performing against required standards of hygiene, and therefore make informed choices about where they buy or consume food.
"One thing guaranteed to ruin Christmas is food poisoning, so if you're organising a festive gathering at a local hostelry or restaurant don't just examine the menu check what their hygiene rating is, too."
Catriona Stewart, head of the food hygiene ratings team at the Food Standards Agency, added: "The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is a great tool when choosing where to eat out, because it tells you what's going in the kitchen and behind the scenes.
"The aim of the scheme is to reduce the one million cases of food poisoning suffered by people in the UK each year."
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme rates food businesses on their hygiene standards, ranging from zero, which means urgent improvement is necessary, to a top rating of five.
Ratings are displayed on distinctive green and black stickers displayed on windows and doors or can be found online at ratings.food.gov.uk.
Ribble Valley has 736 eateries, 97 per cent of which have a food hygiene rating of three stars or above.
The borough is also home to the multi-award-winning Ribble Valley Food Trail, which features 29 producers, shops and restaurants providing top-quality food, exceptional customer and excellent provenance.
Clitheroe also now hosts a successful annual food festival and has been named Lancashire's official food town by Marketing Lancashire.