THE hygiene standards of food outlets across Lancashire can be instantly checked by consumers under a new scheme launched yesterday.

The National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, which scores food premises from zero to five, is designed to drive up standards in restaurants, cafés, takeaways, hotels and other food outlets.

Ratings, based on the most recent local authority inspection, range from zero (urgent improvement necessary) to five (very good).

Chorley, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley and Rossendale have put the information for anyone to view on the Food Standards agency website.

Figures from Burnley had not been released at the time of going to press.

Blackburn with Darwen will join the system at a later date.

However, it has already operated an equivalent star rating scheme called Scores on the Doors for the past four years.

In total 90 per cent of premises in Lancashire rated three or above with 45 per cent gaining the top score.

No premises in Pendle were given a zero rating, but four premises in Rossendale were given the lowest score.

Speaking at the launch of the scheme at the five-rated Mytton Fold Hotel, Langho, Simon Clark, from Environmental Health Lancashire said the scheme had two main aims.

“This information will act as an incentive for businesses to improve,” he said.

“It gives up-to-date and accurate information for the public to make informed choices when purchasing or consuming food.

“The FSA scheme in Lancashire is the biggest and most comprehensive roll-out so far in what will become a nationwide scheme.

“Those with a rating of two and below will already be the subject of investigation by local authorities and will need to improve.”

Steve Jackson, head of health, housing and regeneration at Rossendale Council said: “We can see the benefits for local food businesses and the people that eat and shop in them.

"When customers expect to see a rating, there is a real incentive for food businesses to seek to make improvements to their hygiene standards.”

Zero-rated East Lancashire food outlets

  • Animal Quackers, Huttock Top Farm, Bacup
  • Pizza Costa, Newchurch Road, Bacup
  • Zorba Balti, Bacup Road, Rawtenstall
  • Zorba Takeaway, Blackburn Road, Haslingden
  • The Asha Restaurant, Haslingden Old Road, Oswaldtwistle
  • Henry Street Chippy, Church
  • Fern Gore News and Convenience Store, Accrington
  • The Pennine Superstore, Higher Antley Street, Accrington
  • Flamez, Church Street, Accrington
  • Mazah, Blackburn Road, Accrington
  • Express Dial a Pizza, Blackburn Road, Accrington
  • The ratings are available at the website below.