Call for hygiene score to get under skin of tattooists

Rating system put forward amid warning over risk of HIV and hepatitis infections

Tattoo parlours should be rated according to their hygiene standards in the same way as restaurants and takeaways, health experts have said.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said such a scheme would drive up standards across the industry. It developed the idea after its research discovered that people were unaware of the extent of the serious health problems and skin conditions associated with poor hygiene at tattoo parlours.

The Institute warned that tattooing carries the risk of infection from HIV and hepatitis, as well as skin complications such as scarring and granulomas – knots or lumps that form around the tattoo.

Julie Barratt, the Institute's director, said: "We have no problem with people choosing to have tattoos – but as the popularity of tattoos continues to grow so does concern for the potential spread of infection. Many of the respondents [to a survey by the Institute] indicated that a hygiene rating scheme would help them when they were making a decision about where to have a tattoo."

At present, tattooists must be licensed with their local authority and are inspected under the Health and Safety at Work Act, which covers issues such as cross contamination and the disposal of needles. They are reinspected every two to three years depending on their risk rating. Customers currently have no available information specifically on the hygiene standards in a tattoo parlour.

The food hygiene ratings scheme awards restaurants and takeaways a score of zero (urgent improvement necessary) to five (very good), based on their routine environmental health inspections

The Institute's poll of 168 people found that 93 per cent would only consider using a tattoo parlour if it had attained an "excellent" hygiene rating. Eight out of 10 respondents said the present licensing scheme was not "adequate" and that it was too easy to set up a tattoo parlour from home or a studio.

Meanwhile, 80 per cent of tattoo parlour owners questioned thought that a hygiene rating scheme would benefit the industry by improving standards and driving out poor practice.

But Lionel Titchener, 60, founder of the Tattoo Club of Great Britain, argued that the scheme was unnecessary as local authority inspections already covered hygiene and that it was unlicensed tattooists working from home who were responsible for the problems.

He said: "I don't see any need for it. Tattoo salons are already inspected for hygiene by the local authority. Every shop I have ever been in has really high hygiene standards. The problem comes from people working from home who are not registered in the first place.

"Professional tattooists have very high standards. They need to, to get their certificate."

Case study

Danielle Power, 27, is a nurse and part-time model from Romford. She got her first tattoo at 14

"When I got my first tattoo, it was at a really dodgy shop. They didn't ask for any ID, even though I was clearly 14, and I didn't look old for my age. I wanted to be the girl at school who made everyone go, 'Look what she's got.' It went OK, but it was rubbish. It was some Chinese writing on my back, which was the height of fashion in the 1990s. I've had it covered. I'm constantly updating my tattoos; I tend to go in every couple of months. My left arm is covered in roses, and I've got an owl and a ball of wool on my chest – I'm really into arts and crafts.

"There should definitely be a hygiene rating: they have one for food in restaurants, but a tattoo is for life. There are health checks, but as long as they're good on the day then they're covered for a year. Random spot-checks would be a good idea. If a parlour could display a five-star rating, then you'd know it was a good place.

"I'm very choosy: I seek out designers for unique artworks, and they wouldn't want to sully their reputation with bad hygiene. Ratings would definitely make it safer. I know there are a lot of places that do the bare minimum".

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Service Manager

    £37000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

    Recruitment Genius: Administrator

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has a track record...

    Recruitment Genius: Solar Field Sales Executive

    £40000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Relations Officer

    £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable