Outlets coy on food-safety plan

PORT Stephens restaurateurs have voted with their feet in rejecting the NSW Food Authority's Score on Doors food safety campaign.

Scores on Doors is a volunteer star-rating system given to food outlets to display in store following routine food safety inspections.

In October 2011 the Port Stephens Council signed up to be part of a state-wide trial of the program, with a staff report stating it was an opportunity to "improve consistency of inspections and outcomes for food businesses".

However, more than a year later the program has been dubbed a failure, with only 10 food outlets out of 338 within the Port Stephens Local Government Area signing up.

"There has been little positive response from food businesses to participate in the trial, despite a serious proactive effort on the part of the environmental health team to generate interest," Matthew Brown, the council's development assessment manager, wrote in a report to councillors.

"It is the opinion of the environmental health team that the lack of interest from food business proprietors is due mainly to the initiative being a non-compulsory trial [and] participating voluntarily could potentially result in an unsatisfactory rating that they had no choice but to display to the public."

One business supportive of the plan was Medowie Macadamias, which received a five-star rating, the highest available.

Owner Scott Leech said it was hard to understand why businesses would not support the plan.

"I think it's a great idea, I really do. If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about," he said.

However, the program could be "tweaked" to allow businesses time to come up to scratch if they received a poor rating, he said.

FAN: Scott Leech, from the Medowie Macadamias Farm Cafe, has been part of a food safety program that's getting the axe. Picture: Stephen Wark

FAN: Scott Leech, from the Medowie Macadamias Farm Cafe, has been part of a food safety program that's getting the axe. Picture: Stephen Wark

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