CPH Post


Smiley-faced hygiene system faces overhaul

The 'elite smiley face' may be abolished for being misleading

The yellow hygiene certificates may be misleading, says the agriculture minister (Photo: Scanpix)

January 9, 2014

by PS

The yellow food hygiene reports that hang in the windows of shops and restaurants around the country may be overhauled, according to Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

The hygiene reports depict one of four emoticons – ranging from a sad face to a beaming smiley face – depending on how well the establishment performs in hygiene checks.

Photo: Fødevarestyrelsen

Establishments that are awarded the top mark on four successive visits are awarded a smiley face with a banner reading ‘Elite’ below it, but Agriculture Minister Dan Jørgensen (S) argues they are often misinterpreted by consumers and should be ditched.

“[Consumers] associate the elite smiley with a greater level of security than the [food agency] Fødevarestyrelsen says they can actually provide. The point of the smiley is to provide better information, not the opposite. That is why I think it is sensible to drop the elite smiley,” Jørgensen told Jyllands-Posten.

READ MORE: Rating system proposed for ministries

Consumer watchdog in favour
The move is supported both by the consumer watchdog Tænk and the industry lobby group Dansk Erhverv, both of which Jørgensen consulted prior to making his decision.

“Consumers over-interpret the elite smiley,” Tænk spokesperson Camilla Udsen told Jyllands-Posten, referring to a Fødevarestyrelsen study.

“I think that the elite smiley sends a signal that hygiene conditions are far better than they really are. The elite smiley is not a better mark than the happy-faced smiley. All it means is that the establishment received four top marks in a row,” Udsen said.

Related stories