In this week’s news there are renewed calls to make it mandatory to display Food Hygiene Ratings, we celebrate hospitality’s first full Easter in three years, support the prospect of it being illegal to post fake reviews and applaud BrewDog’s expansion plans.
Renewed calls to make it mandatory to display food hygiene ratings in England
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has renewed its call for a mandatory food hygiene rating (FHR) scheme in England, which would enable consumers to make informed choices about where they eat and purchase food. In Wales and Northern Ireland, mandatory schemes were introduced in November 2013 and October 2016 respectively, but the scheme remains voluntary in England. Only 55% of food businesses in England display their FHR, compared with 89% in Wales, and 87% in Northern Ireland. Public support for the mandatory display of ratings has been consistently high, with 85% of respondents in England supporting such a change in the Food Standard Agency’s (FSA) most recent survey of UK consumer attitudes. This is supported by our Food Alert Hygiene Matters consumer survey, where a venue’s FHR was in the top three of key decision drivers when choosing where to eat out or order food for delivery. The FSA has said that it is committed to bringing forward the mandatory display of ratings in England so progress is expected this year.
‘Record-breaking’ Easter for hospitality as doors open for first time in three years
The sun shone and the beer flowed as pubs and restaurants were allowed to open their doors for the first Easter bank holiday weekend since 2019. VisitBritain has said some 7.4m Brits had planned a UK trip for the four-day weekend, with an expected spend of £1.8b. Deputy chief executive Patricia Yates said: “This is the first Easter since 2019, pre-pandemic, that the industry has been able to fully trade and the long weekend will be critical in providing businesses and destinations with much needed cash-flow as the season gets underway. Our tourism businesses will be very pleased to welcome you back.”
New rules to make fake reviews illegal
We all know that fake reviews exist in hospitality – bad reviews can ruin a venue’s reputation and equally good reviews can mislead consumers to believing somewhere is fine dining, to only be dished up a microwave meal. The government is now stepping in to make it illegal to pay someone to write or host a false review by giving the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) enhanced powers. Pending Parliamentary approval, the new law will mean you can no longer commission someone to write or submit a fake review, host consumer reviews without taking reasonable steps to check they are genuine, and offer or advertise to submit, commission or facilitate fake reviews. ‘Subscription traps’, in which businesses make it difficult to exit a contract, will also be stopped. Consumer minister Paul Scully said: “We’re making sure consumer protections keep pace with a modern, digitised economy. No longer will you visit a five-star-reviewed restaurant only to find a burnt lasagne or get caught in a subscription in which there’s no end in sight. Consumers deserve better and the majority of businesses out there doing the right thing deserve protection from rogue traders undermining them.”
BrewDog announces plans to open 27 sites in 2022
Food Alert client BrewDog has announced that it is set to open 27 new sites in the UK and overseas during 2022. The news follows the opening of its latest bar in Basingstoke. Other domestic locations opening soon are Canterbury, Durham, Chester, Bristol Harbourside, Ipswich, Lincoln and London’s Waterloo Station, which is set to be BrewDog’s biggest ever UK site. Set over 26,500 sq ft and two floors, the Waterloo flagship location will offer a fully immersive experience, from a speakeasy-style cocktail bar and lounge, to a spacious outdoor terrace, and even a not-for-profit florist selling flowers and potted plants. For those who fancy getting competitive, there will also be a gaming area complete with duckpin bowling alley, shuffle boards and a slide to get between floors.