Scores on Doors program aims to encourage food safety

RESTAURANTS, fast food joints, cafes and other food businesses face a future where they are given a rating based on their cleanliness.

Branded Scores on Doors, the program's aim is to encourage food safety across the Fraser Coast.

Businesses will not be forced to display their ratings but the thinking is those with better scores will display to gain customer trust and improved trade.

Joep Dekker from the Wild Lotus.
Joep Dekker from the Wild Lotus. Alistair Brightman

The councillors showed unanimous support for the program at Wednesday's Fraser Coast Regional Council meeting.

They resolved to develop a policy for it, adopt the program and put in place a fee structure that would begin at the 2016-2017 year.

A report showed those with a lower rating would be made to pay more fees, while the businesses that scored better paid less because fewer inspections were needed.

"Licensed food premises will be assigned with a star rating based on the results of routine inspections conducted by council's (environmental health officers)," the documents say.

"A consistent standardised approach will ensure a level playing field for all operators."

Joep Dekker from Wild Lotus in Hervey Bay said he would proudly display his score.

He said he was confident of a strong rating because he knew his business had high standards when it came to cleanliness.

"It is something to be proud of, a good score," he said.

Mr Dekker said his business was in an older building, which meant he and his staff had to work hard to maintain high standards.

He said it would be good for the public to know the scores so they could be confident in where they chose to eat.

But Maryborough Chamber of Commerce president Craig Winter said the rating system could place businesses with a slightly lower score on the back foot.

Mr Winter said there would be minimal incentive for businesses to raise their score.

Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce president Tim Powers disagreed, saying that food outlets could reduce the cost of doing business by maintaining a high standard of cleanliness and earning a high score, which would entitle them to fewer inspections.

"Businesses will always continue to improve under a program like this," he said.

Mr Powers said the Fraser Coast was already home to many eateries with high standards for cleanliness and the program would give those businesses a chance to celebrate that.