When you head to your favourite restaurant, coffee shop or pub for a bite to eat, you will have seen and be familiar with the standout black and green “Food Hygiene Rating” sticker; a score from 0-5 to give the consumer an idea of the cleanliness of the establishment.
But what do the numbers stand for and what does it say about the standards of cleanliness, food handling and food safety? It’s important to know the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme thoroughly to give consumers the highest standard of food products and confidence in the business.
In Wales and Northern Ireland, it is mandatory that the Food Hygiene Rating sticker be displayed prominently, whilst in England it is voluntary. Scotland has their own rules, which can be found at Food Standards Scotland. Across all nations, each establishment’s rating can be found online via the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland. This means that customers can freely and easily access the business’ rating.
Businesses that require Food Hygiene Rating scores are places where food is supplied, sold, or consumed, including:
- Restaurants, Pubs, Cafes
- Takeaways, Food Vans, and Stalls
- Canteens and Hotels
- Supermarkets and other Food Shops
- Schools, Hospitals, and Care Homes
To obtain a rating, a food safety officer from the local authority will inspect the business against a certain set of criteria. These criteria will cover three elements of the business:
- Food Handling: How hygienically the food is handled in regards to its preparation, how it’s cooked, re-heated, cooled, and stored.
- Building and Premises Standards: How clean the premises are including the state of repairs, layout, lighting, ventilation, pest control and other facilities.
- Procedures and Knowledge: How the business manages ways of keeping food safe, looking at processes, training, and systems to ensure good hygiene is maintained.
When an inspector visits the business and measures it against the criteria above, it is then awarded a number rating from zero to five. Zero is at the bottom of the standard scale and urgent improvement is necessary. Five is the highest rating on the scale and standards are found to be very good.
5 – Hygiene standards are very good
4 – Hygiene standards are good
3 – Hygiene standards are generally satisfactory
2 – Some improvement is necessary
1 – Major improvement is necessary
0 – Urgent improvement is required
If a business does not reach the top rating, the inspector will inform the business what is needed to reach the top available rating. The food safety officer from the local authority will have a number of options on hand to them for businesses with low ratings and will give advice and guidance, as well as a time frame as to when improvements should be made. In some cases, where there is an imminent risk to public health, the officer must act to ensure consumers are protected by stopping part of or closing the business until it is deemed safe.
To make sure you and your food business always achieve the best results in Food Hygiene Rating scores, get in touch with us at AMCAS Training. We can help in all areas, from organising in-house food hygiene training sessions to auditing your food hygiene and safety compliance and putting a plan in place for improvements and maintenance.