Have you ever glanced at the certificates on the wall of your local takeaway while waiting for your order? One of the certificates is the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS) rating. It is run by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Scotland in partnership with 28 Scottish local authorities.

The ratings for the whole of the UK are available on the FSA website with Glasgow ratings now available on the new Open Glasgow Data portal. The portal aims to make city data open and empower citizens and organisations to deliver practical solutions.

4,000+ food premises inspected

The Environmental Health Officers of Glasgow City Council Business Regulation inspect the more than 4,000 food businesses in Glasgow to check whether they meet the food hygiene requirements. They inspect all eating places from pubs to prisons, schools and restaurants. What most people don’t know is that the scheme also covers suppliers like supermarkets and food shops, and processors such as butchers, bakeries and packers. Food businesses are then given a rating.

Scotland uses three ratings: “Awaiting Inspection”, “Pass” or “Improvement Required” – with “Pass and Eat Safe” awarded to premises who go beyond the legal requirements. The rest of the UK uses five ratings from 0 (urgent improvement necessary) to 5 (very good).

The Open Glasgow Data Portal

Clare is a City Data Officer in the Open Glasgow team who met with colleagues in Environmental Health. She used the FSA Scotland API to publish Glasgow data on data portal. When she joined the team in June 2013, Clare researched American open data cities and noticed that users had a keen interest in restaurants’ inspections. Interestingly, the UK has a broader system which includes all premises where food and drinks are prepared, sold or consumed.

Benefits to consumers and businesses

It’s not just consumers who worry about cleanliness and safety; anyone in the food industry needs to know their suppliers’ track record. How would you feel if you served a fruit juice in your restaurant and realised that the producer or the bottler did not meet the legal requirements of food hygiene?

Beside consumers and people in the industry, the data can be used for a wide range of purposes, for example to analyse geographical variations as a Which? report did in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Experience of other cities with integrated system has shown that opening data can lead to innovative developments.

Businesses are not obliged to display the certificate so giving consumers and businesses independent access to the ratings empowers them to make decisions and ask questions.

What do you think? Are you interested in your local food places track record for food hygiene? Are you likely to check their rating and ask them questions? Can you see how giving access to open city data can empower the community? Let us know [embedit snippet=”tweet-us”]