Food Hygiene Ratings
January 27, 2016
Your business’ food hygiene rating is inextricably linked to its reputation—one bad rating and your reputation could be permanently sullied. And for business’ like yours that sell food—such as restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, hotels, supermarkets and other food shops—a good reputation is essential to developing and retaining a dedicated customer base.
Diners can be fickle, driven from their favourite eatery by a single negative hygiene rating. Therefore, your business cannot afford to receive anything but stellar food hygiene ratings.
To ensure your business stays hygienic and your customers stay happy, follow these tips for earning good food hygiene ratings.
Food Hygiene Ratings in England, Northern Ireland and Wales
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) in England, Northern Ireland and Wales helps customers choose where to eat out or shop for food by providing information about the hygiene standards in places that serve food, including supermarkets and food shops. Local authorities in England, Northern Ireland and Wales run the FHRS in partnership with the Food Standards Agency.
Food safety officers, working on behalf of local authorities, inspect businesses and assign them a hygiene rating that reflects how closely they are meeting the requirements of food hygiene law.
In England and Northern Ireland, businesses selling or serving food show their hygiene ratings by displaying a sticker or certificate. Local authorities encourage businesses to display their sticker or certificate in a prominent location where customers can easily see them.
Since 28 November 2013, businesses in Wales that receive a new FHRS sticker must display it in a prominent place such as the front door, entrance or window and verbally provide information on their rating if customers ask. New Wales FHRS stickers include the Welsh Government logo.
Hygiene ratings in England, Northern Ireland and Wales range from zero to five, with a ‘five’ rating signifying that the business has ‘very good’ hygiene standards. Food safety officers use the following three general criteria to determine if a business is complying with food safety law:
After inspection, the food safety officer will explain to the owners or managers of the business what improvements they need to make and how they can achieve the top rating of a ‘five’. The local authority will follow up to verify that businesses made the required improvements.
Inspection Results in Scotland
The Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS) in Scotland does the same thing as the FHRS: It helps customers choose where to eat out or shop for food by providing information about the hygiene standards in places that serve food, including supermarkets and food shops. Local authorities in Scotland run the FHIS in partnership with the Food Standards Agency.
However, in Scotland enforcement officers from the local authority do not assign a numerical ranking—they assign a ‘pass’ or an ‘improvement required’ result.
Just like in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, the enforcement officer will explain to the owners or managers what improvements they need to make after the inspection, and the local authority will follow up to verify the business made the required improvements.
But in Scotland, food businesses with exemplary hygiene standards can apply for the Eat Safe Award, which indicates that those businesses are operating at higher standards than the FHIS ‘pass’ designation.
Good Food Hygiene Practices: The Four Cs
Good food hygiene practices not only keep your food, customers and employees safe, they also help you bolster your business’ reputation, retain dedicated customers and comply with the law.
Good food hygiene is centred on controlling harmful bacteria, which can cause serious illness. Following the tips organised into the four Cs will help you control bacteria.
Hygiene is Good for Business
Earning good food hygiene ratings sends a message to your customers that your business values their patronage and strives for cleanliness. There is a clear correlation between a business’ hygiene and its profits—by ensuring compliance with food safety laws and displaying the sticker or certificate that proves it, you give a reason for your customers to trust you and return to your business.