A plan to impose tougher penalties on restaurants, cafes and takeaways infested with pests is good news for diners across Scotland.
Business owners found guilty of food safety offences could now face much bigger fines or even jail terms following the introduction of new sentencing guidelines which came into force this week.
The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) say restaurants and takeaways which ignore pest management are putting the lives of their customers at risk and hopes the move will ensure every catering business in the area takes their responsibility for pest control seriously.
But it insists stronger punishments will only act as a greater deterrent if they’re imposed across the board, from large organisations to sole traders, on a regular basis.
Simon Forrester, chief executive of the BPCA, said: “The laws governing food hygiene make business owners fully responsible for pest control at their premises.
“Those who ignore it and end up with infestations on their sites should be made to pay the price.
“Sentencing in recent years doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact as harsh penalties have rarely been imposed. So while the move to introduce tougher punishments to those who flout food safety laws is great news for consumers, it must be strictly applied and on a uniform basis.
“Pest management is a primary obligation for owners of every type of food business and we hope the prospect of bigger fines, or even jail in extreme cases, will ensure the subject is now at the top of their agenda.”
The new guidelines, published by the Sentencing Council, cover a multitude of food safety and hygiene offences. These include penalties for businesses discovered to have pest infestations will now be assessed on a sliding scale depending on a number of factors including the harm it has caused, the potential impact and how far owners have fallen short of expected standards.
The BPCA says owners of catering establishments must be made to realise the importance of pest management and the potential impact of ignoring it, both on their customers and their business.