BEGA Valley Shire Council and local food businesses are being congratulated for joining the recently refreshed and improved Scores on Doors program, a star rating system based on the outcome of a routine unannounced food hygiene and safety inspection of a food business.
Speaking at the Food Regulation Partnership food retail meeting in Merimbula on Thursday July 31 the NSW Food Authority’s director of compliance, investigation and enforcement Peter Day said the council’s decision to join the program was already proving a drawcard for the area’s food businesses and their customers – locals and visitors alike.
The Food Authority used the occasion to launch a video explaining what Scores on Doors is all about.
“It explains how the ‘Score on the Door’ takes the guess work out of what’s really going on behind the scenes of your local café, takeaway or restaurant,” he said.
Bega Valley Shire Mayor Bill Taylor said of the 250 eligible food businesses in the various villages and towns across the Bega Valley Shire 30 had already signed up to the program and of the 30, about 15 were in the Merimbula, Pambula area .
“The Scores on Doors initiative is an effective marketing tool for each of the areas within our shire to promote the standard and quality of the hygiene and food safety of local food businesses," Cr Taylor said.
As part of Scores on Doors a business is assessed against a standardised food safety checklist and assigned a star rating reflecting their performance where 5 stars is Excellent, 4 stars is Very Good and 3 stars is Good.
Council’s environmental health coordinator Greg O’Donnell acknowledged running a retail food business in the Bega Valley was one of the toughest jobs because of the high costs associated with the business.
“This allows public recognition of those who deserve it and rewards their efforts,” he said.
On Monday The Barracks Restaurant at Bega Illawarra TAFE Campus was awarded 5-stars as part of Scores on Doors for their standard of food safety.
“It’s great to see TAFE here leading by example,” Mr O’Donnell said.
“If anywhere should be setting a really good example for food safety, it should be TAFE here.
“We don’t give 5-stars lightly.
“For these businesses receiving the excellence rating, they are getting everything right.”
BVSC is promoting the program by giving people the opportunity to win gift vouchers at Scores on Doors businesses, to spend at other businesses in the program.
Mr O’Donnell said this way businesses are rewarded for their commitment to food hygiene.
The program was introduced as part of the NSW Food Authority’s work to reduce food-borne illness in NSW and is one of a suite of initiatives in place to help improve the safety of food sold across the state.
Paul Braybrooks, chairman of the NSW Food Authority told the News Weekly that one of the areas that the authority wanted to draw attention to was the use of raw eggs. He said that the authority recommends that raw eggs are not used in any finished food product as they can contain the salmonella bacteria.
He said that 99 times out of 100 they would be OK but that one per cent could be a cause of a deadly outbreak.
Around 110 people attended the Food Regulation Partnership food retail meeting and Mr O’Donnell said that the tone of discussion was very positive and forward looking.
“This forum was unique for its openness and frankness of discussion,” he said.
Cr Taylor said a real attraction of the program was the fact that busy food businesses don’t have to do anything above and beyond what they are already doing to participate.
“The scoring system is based upon the inspections that are already conducted by council’s environmental health officers," Cr Taylor said.
Further information about the Scores on Doors program and other food safety initiatives can be found at www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au.