People in South Tyneside who are planning on dining out over Christmas and New Year are being urged to check the food hygiene rating of their restaurant of choice.
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme aims to give people a helping hand when choosing a venue to enjoy a bite to eat.
Almost half of the 1,060 businesses listed in South Tyneside have received the top rating of five, with 90% rated three or above following council inspections.
The ratings are carried out on a scale of 0 - which means ‘urgent improvement necessary’ - to a top rating of 5 which is ‘very good’.
Venues included in the list range from pubs, cafes and restaurants to hotels, food shops and bakeries.
Coun Nancy Maxwell, lead member for area management and community safety, said: “The Christmas and New Year period is a very busy time for local restaurants, cafes and pubs as people get together with family, friends and work colleagues for food and drink.
“With the majority of the food businesses in South Tyneside rated three of above, people really are spoiled for choice.
“The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is a simple but effective tool in helping people to understand what goes on behind the scenes in the kitchen and reassures the public that the food they are served meets current hygiene standards.
“As well as checking out the ratings online, diners can also look out for the green and black food hygiene rating stickers displayed in food premises. These not only show how well the business meets food hygiene laws, but help to encourage diners to try some of the great cuisine South Tyneside has to offer.”
The rating system is part of a national scheme developed by the Food Standards Agency.
Visitors to restaurants are also reminded to inform staff if they have any food allergies or intolerances before placing their orders as providing allergen ingredient free dishes can not only take extra resources and time, but businesses will want to ensure their customers are not put at risk.
To see ratings, go to www.food.gov.uk/ratings