The food business is extremely sensitive – a bad reputation sticks and is incredibly hard to shake off, whether it is in regards to the quality of the cuisine offered or the hygiene standards associated with a particular establishment.
One important way in which consumers judge your food business is through the Food Hygiene Rating (FHR) Scheme, run by the Food Standards Agency.
Environmental Health Officers (EHO) award all commercial food enterprises – restaurants, pubs, cafes, caterers, take-away outlets and any other food-related businesses – a food hygiene rating of between 0 and 5 to help consumers make an informed choice about where to buy and eat food.
If you are rated a 5, you’re the best with great hygiene standards! A 4 is acceptable, but could be improved; 3 satisfactory; 2 demands some improvement, 1 needs major improvement and if you score a 0 then urgent improvement is required.
These ratings are not only displayed on the business premises, but also online for all to see on the Food Hygiene Ratings searchable database.
If you have tried, and failed, to achieve a coveted 5-star rating, don’t give up in despair. With the help of the recommendations of the helpful EHO you can work towards improving your rating.
The Criteria for a 5-star FHR
Without going into detail here are the main areas you can pay attention to in order to satisfy the high standards demanded for a top rating and maintaining it:
- Safe food storage is extremely important to prevent contamination, with raw and cooked foods stored separately, and a good stock recording system in place.
- Hygienic food preparation covers a wide range of factors from appropriate cook’s protective clothing and separate utensils for different foods to cooking temperature and washing up processes.
- Structural Cleanliness – the premises should be sparkling clean and in a good state of repair, well laid out with adequate lighting and ventilation.Personal hygiene is also taken into account.
- Confidence in Management is measured by the inspector by investigating how well you run the business, including what staff training you have. The procedures, policies and records of managing and maintaining good hygiene standards are also important.
The Food Standards Agency has some useful information on its website to help you with food safety management procedures and food hygiene regulations for your business.
Maintaining a Top Food Hygiene Rating
It might all seem a little overwhelming, especially when you first start out with a food business. Those experienced in the food industry however will be quick to re-assure you that achieving and maintaining a 5-star FHR through regular inspections just takes organisation and dedication.
The secret is to make sure you have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the standards required, and make sure you don’t let them slip between EHO visits. High standards should be the norm rather than carefully prepared for anticipated inspections.
The best way to make sure your FHR keeps sparkling in the foodie firmament is to seek out some professional help from an accredited and highly regarded provider of advice and training for food business owners and their staff.
AMCAS Training can help in all sorts of ways, from organising in-house food hygiene training sessions through to auditing your food hygiene and safety compliance and putting a plan in place for improvements and maintenance.