Star rating on back burner

Only 23 of the more than 400 premises have chosen to willingly display their Eat Safe star rating.
Only 23 of the more than 400 premises have chosen to willingly display their Eat Safe star rating. Contributed

THE value of the council's Eat Safe program, and how indicative it is of the quality of the region's licensed food businesses, has been questioned after only 23 of the more than 400 premises have chosen to willingly display their star rating.

While each food business has received an "unofficial" star rating, only 38 premises have received an official rating - which all happen to be five stars - but only 23 have chosen to "opt in" and display their ratings.

Under the Eat Safe scheme, only those who decided to opt into the program with three or more stars can display their rating.

"It's very low (the number of five star-rated business), there's no doubt about that," the council's health and regulatory spokesman Wayne Honor said.

The NewsMail has previously reported that almost 200 businesses received a zero or two-star rating during those unofficial checks, meaning they are currently either poor or non-compliant performers.

But the council - citing privacy laws - won't divulge which businesses have received the poor rating.

Spinnaker Restaurant and Bar received a five-star rating, and owner Donna Hopton said she believed all businesses should display their ratings, no matter the number of stars.

"If we have to have our standards, they should have theirs," she said.

Kountdown Kafe has chosen to not opt into the program entirely due to it being "not of any benefit to anyone".

"It's really not an indication of the food," owner Sue Sloane said.

"If you don't participate, it doesn't mean you're not up to health standards."

Ms Sloane said she felt the council had wasted the $2000 spent to purchase the Eat Safe model from the Brisbane City Council.

"It doesn't reflect to the standard of your kitchen," she said.

"It's like getting a gold star for your homework in primary school."

She said she had been told by a health inspector that merely turning up to an Eat Safe induction would grant a business one of five stars.

"He said if we had a cleaning diary that would be also be worth a star," Ms Sloane said.

"The public just aren't going to understand the five-star rating at all.

"We get inspected two to three times a year and we always pass."

The Waves has only received its unofficial star rating, but Human Resources manager Tanya McCombe said once the official ratings were carried out, every business should have to display their rating.

"The point of the star rating is to put it up there for consumers to make the informed decision about where they want to patronise," she said.

"It adds as an incentive for anyone with a low rating to improve those areas."

Cr Honor said in the next 12 months all licensed food businesses should have received their official star ratings.

"Council's not about condemning businesses - we are about helping them become compliant," he said.

"The consumers are the ones that will be the regulators - they are the ones who have the right to ask what their rating is."

Topics:  bundaberg regional council eat safe program

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