So you have probably seen a sign outside restaurants and cafes showing how many stars the business has for Food Safety.
The Star Rating may vary a little across Australia but the following is a rough guide for what each rating means;
5 Stars – Excellent Performer and fully complies with the relevant food safety legislation
4 Stars – Very Good Performer with high compliance to the relevant food safety legislation
3 Stars – Good Performer with a good level of compliance with relevant food safety legislation
2 Stars – Poor Performer with a low level of compliance with relevant food safety legislation
No Stars – no compliance with rlevenat food safety legislation
In general, businesses with a 3 Star rating and above will have their rating on display.
The Rating for each business is determined using a set checklist by an Environmental Health Officer from their local council and is done annually.
The rating system is designed to enable customers to be able to easily see just how well a food business complies with food safety legislation.
However all most custmers see is the number of stars and have no real idea what it actually means except that 5 Stars must be the best and so are more likely to eat there than elsewhere with a lesser rating.
Although a Star rating is now being commonly used by many councils across Australia, other types of rating systems are in use in other countries.
In the USA there are some jurisdictions using A, B, C and in others colours (Green, Yellow, White and Red) are being considered.
So the question is this, if the intent of a food safety rating is to do two things; improve food safety generally through using a set system and then to let the public know what each business’s food safety compliance is, then is it better to use a number based system like the Australian stars, or an alphabetic system like A,B and C, or colours?
And does it actually matter which format is best seen by customers, if they do not actually understand what the rating in use even means?