Three-quarters of restaurant inspections completed despite Covid workload – The Royal Gazette

Creation: 16 Feb. 2022 07:43

Grade on Licenses is a food safety and hygiene rating program run by the Environmental Health Section (file photo)

Inspections have been carried out at more than three-quarters of catering outlets on the island despite the diversion of resources to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, a government spokeswoman said.

She added that it was hoped environmental health teams could soon return to a more regular routine if there were no significant changes in coronavirus variants.

The ‘Licensing Scores’ system was introduced in 2017 to display recorded hygiene and food safety scores for restaurants, cafes, bars, bakeries and take-out places.

The results were uploaded on the government website until 2019.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “As you are no doubt aware, the primary focus of the Department of Health in general and the Environmental Health Unit in particular over the past few years has been to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The impact on the environmental health team has been significant in this regard, as we have realigned and refocused our services.

“With the increase in work commitments from Covid-19 and the closure of many food businesses during the pandemic, it was quite difficult to complete all the inspections.

“However, we have completed 78% of the program in 2020 and 2021, quite an achievement during a pandemic.”

She added: “The Environmental Health Unit aims to complete the program by 2022; however, this will depend on continued pressures on the team and therefore cannot be guaranteed.

Results for 2020 and 2021 were not included on the Grades on Food Establishment Licenses webpage.

The Ministry of Health spokeswoman added: “Our aim is to publish the ratings awarded following this year’s inspection programme.

“We will continue to work towards our goals, however, with the resources allocated to Covid within this unit, it has created challenges for these deliverables.

“We anticipate that with recent changes to pandemic diets, we will soon see normalized operation, unless there are significant changes in variant types.

The government website explained that the scheme was introduced to let the public know how well Bermuda food suppliers are meeting health standards.

Environmental health officers rated each outlet on factors such as personal hygiene practices, protective clothing for staff, and vermin control during annual and unannounced visits.

Locals can score up to 100 points with deductions made for violations based on their importance to public health.

An A grade is awarded for 90 to 100 points, 80 to 89 points would get a B and 70 to 79 a C.

The website added that a D grade was “below 70 points and urgent action or review of closure is generally indicated for such a score.”

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