Diners can check ratings online first

Recommending diners check the food safety of a premises when deciding where to eat is a different approach to publicising the gradings, the Restaurant Association of New Zealand says.

''Is that going to be the new trend, that you check out the grading before you decide where to go,'' association chief executive Marisa Bidois, of Auckland, asked.

''We'll see if it catches on.''

Ms Bidois was commenting about the promotion of the Queenstown Lakes District Council's new online database which grades more than 350 restaurants, bars, cafes and takeaway food outlets.

Grades A for ''excellent'' through to D for ''unacceptable'' rate the personal hygiene practices of staff, temperature control, food protection, cleaning and sanitising, structural aspects of the premises and staff training.

The grades will be updated at the beginning of every week.

Premises which have recently opened, or have had a change of operator, may be graded ''P'', meaning they are awaiting inspection.

Regulatory manager Lee Webster said by publicising the gradings, the council hoped people would use the information to make more informed choices about where to dine, or buy ready-made food.

Ms Bidois said food safety gradings had always been accessible to people interested and the latest results revealed ''a good standard'' for the district.

The gradings are on the council's website under the ''I Want To'' section.