The British Hospitality Association and the British Beer and Pub Association have won a legal battle to prevent the compulsory display of food hygiene ratings in London.
They petitioned successfully in a Commons Committee against a bill from London boroughs, which proposed that food hygiene ratings should be compulsorily displayed.
The Committee rejected the proposal after the two associations said that the boroughs were "jumping the gun" since the Food Standards Agency is to carry out a national review in April 2012 of the new Food Hygiene Ratings Scheme (FHRS). This review will look at whether the voluntary approach to display had worked or, if not, whether the display of ratings should be made mandatory at national level.
Lord Young's November 2010 report on hygiene ratings proposed also that all local authorities should be compelled to use the FHRS, rather than the stars-based Scores on the Doors scheme.
Martin Couchman, the BHA's deputy chief executive, who led the BHA's petition, said that the Boroughs' Bill was wholly premature.
"We were concerned that, if the bill had been successful, there would be special regulations for London which did not apply nationally," he said.
"Any decision on compulsory display should only be made after the review."
Martin Rawlings, BBPA director (pub and leisure), said that the result was a victory for common sense and small businesses.
"The burdens of legislation would have been hugely significant. We do however remain in full support of the FSA's voluntary scheme - which provides a positive incentive - rather than further red tape.," he said.
By Janet Harmer
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