A proposed initiative to improve food hygiene standards has been said to contain “only risks and no opportunities” for retailers.

The Scores on the Doors (SOTDs) programme is intended to standardise the many different hygiene scoring systems currently in operation, and give customers more information about the hygiene of the premises that they are purchasing food from. It also aims to provide an incentive to retailers to improve their performance.

Stores are expected to be graded on a four-tier scale. However, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) is calling for an exemption for shops with no open food handling, and for an easily understood ‘pass’ or ‘improvement required’ grading system.

Chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience stores are low-risk businesses and we strongly believe that consumers will not use the rating system to make choices about where to shop. It is a waste of local authority resources to extend the scheme to low-risk premises.”

Stores which prepare food on site should be included in the scheme, Lowman added.

“We can see that there would be some need for those convenience stores that do handle open food to come under the scope of SOTDs,” he said.

“For these premises we believe a two-tier ‘pass’ or ‘improvement required’ grading system would give customers a clear message about the cleanliness of the store.”