When was the last time you ate out? A pub lunch or a curry, perhaps?
Did you look up the restaurant's FSA FHRS score first? No? You reckless risk taker.
What!? You don't even know what the FSA's FHRS is? Me neither, actually. Until recently.
FHRS stands for the Food Hygiene Standards Scheme. It is a scheme overseen by the Food Standards Agency, a government quango, and administered by local authorities. It boils down to food safety officers inspecting premises and giving them a score out of five.
No bad thing that restaurants are inspected, you might think. And I agree. It is right that local authorities can shut down sub-standard food retailers. But what is all this about restaurants that have perfectly acceptable standards having to be graded on top of all that?
The FSA freely admits that the scheme tells customers nothing about the quality of the food. If it tells us little about food, the new scheme does say a lot about the way our country is run.
For a start the scheme is supposed to be voluntary. "How could you possibly complain about a scheme that is voluntary, Carswell" I hear you say.
Except it is not voluntary in the sense that a local business can politely decline to take part. It is voluntary in the sense that a local authority can decide not to be part of it – but then get bulling letters from the head of the FSA demanding that they should.
So much for localism, eh? So much for the fallacy that we elect local people to run local government the way local folk want them to. The apparatus of central government expects them to opt in.
Even without quangocrats waving the big stick, with an enhanced role for local authority food inspectors, it seems that it did not take a lot to get council officers to recommend that local councils sign up.
When not promising to burn quangos, politicians often like to promise that they will cut red tape.
Next time you hear such faux promises, ask them how the FSA managed to escape. Demand to know why the new inspection regime is imposing an additional regulatory burden on thousands of small businesses.
Who do you vote for it you want to throw the FSA out of office? You can't.blog comments powered by Disqus
"A revolutionary text ... right up there with the Communist manifesto" - Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times