Ipswich City Council is confident more food businesses than forecast will join the city’s new Eat Safe Ipswich program.

About 785 food businesses across the region had been invited to join the new program, with a take-up rate of about 20 per cent (or 200 businesses) expected.

Health, Security and Community Safety Committee Chairperson Cr Sheila Ireland said initial interest had been encouraging, with more than 260 food businesses now expressing interesting in signing up.

“The Eat Safe program is a system where a licenced food business would receive a food star rating based on compliance with the Food Act 2006 and Food Safety Standards. The objective of the Eat Safe program is to increase and reward compliance, which will in turn optimise service delivery,” she said.

“It is a voluntary program. If a business calculates a 3 star or above rating they can opt-in to have their results publicly displayed.”

Cr Ireland said information sessions had been held in Ipswich CBD and Springfield for businesses eligible for the program. There were 138 attendees over the four sessions in Ipswich and 69 attendees over the three sessions in Springfield.

“Businesses have commented how fantastic the program is and how it is good to motivate staff and reframe the image of compliance in regards to food safety,” she said.

“From now through until around September each business will have the opportunity to have an education visit at their business to increase their potential to achieve an excellent star rating. Council officers are contacting businesses to make these bookings and moving from suburb to suburb.”

Education and environmental health officers will visit in coming months and conduct an audit to assign the star rating. These ratings will be released only after all businesses have been contacted and the Eat Safe Ipswich program is officially launched in October.

“Businesses and customers should realise it is a hygiene 5 star rating system, not a food quality 5 star rating,” she said.

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