Here at the National Takeaway Association our aim is to provide power and knowledge to our members, which includes advice on food hygiene schemes, so today we are going to look at the Food Hygiene Rating Schemes across the UK.
What is the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme?
The scheme is all about giving you clear information about the hygiene standards of the business’s you are consuming food from.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the scheme is run by the Food standards agencies in partnership with local authorities. (There is a slightly different variation in place in Scotland which is known as The Food Hygiene Information Scheme).
The schemes are designed to help customers choose where to eat out by giving a clear rating of the business’s hygiene standards.
Display of the rating sticker is still voluntary in England as apposed to in Wales and NI where the scheme is set out in law. In Scotland some businesses may choose not to display their rating on their website or premises, but all ratings are displayed on the food standards Scotland website.
For the most accurate results of ratings in the rest of the UK, you can find results on the FSA’s website by simply searching the name of the organisation or the address.
On the FSA website, you can see the last date of inspection, their current rating, and the details of the business.
What does the rating cover?
The food hygiene rating is a snapshot of the standard of hygiene of the premises at the time of inspection. It does not cover food preferences, quality, presentation, or the actual culinary skill of the business. The rating shows how well the business is doing overall, based on standards found at the time of inspection.
The Food Standards Agency website has set out 3 key elements that will be checked by the officer at the inspection:
- how hygienically the food is handled – how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored
- the physical condition of the business –including cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation, pest control and other facilities
- how the business manages ways of keeping food safe, looking at processes, training and systems to ensure good hygiene is maintained.
Once the inspection is complete the officer will give the premises a rating from 0-5 which can be found online and often on stickers displayed at the business premises. The date of the inspection can usually be found on the back of the sticker or is available online. (Occasionally there can be a difference between online results and displayed stickers due to appeals and a delay in the local authority uploading the new information to website).
What do the ratings mean?
The Food Hygiene Ratings are a simple 0-5 scale. (or ‘pass’ and ‘improvement required’ in Scotland) A lot of differing factors go into deciding the food rating score but put simply 0 means urgent improvement is required and 5 indicates that the business’ hygiene standards are very good. A score of 0 would indicate a serious breach in hygiene that could put public health at immediate risk and therefore would have a detrimental effect on the success of the business. A score of 5 on the other hand is where everyone should be aspiring to be and indicates to the consumer that all necessary health and hygiene standards are been met leaving them to feel safe to purchase food from the premises.
How often do inspections take place?
The time between inspections can vary from 6 months to 2 years depending on the potential risk the business poses to public health as well as previous scores. Things that are taken into consideration when determining the frequency of inspection include the type of food that is handled, the number and type of customers (e.g. vulnerable groups) as well as the previous ratings of the business.
It is also possible that concerns raised by the public that hygiene standards are not been met will result in an investigation by the local authority which could result in a new inspection and a new rating.
How can you achieve a rating of 5 for your organisation?
The Food Standard Agency’s website has plenty of information to help you achieve a rating of 5 that will keep your customers feeling happy and confident to purchase from you. It is vitally important that you have all the correct measures in place to ensure you and your staff know best practice with regards to all food safety
As part of your membership with us here at NTWA we offer access to over 400 training courses at a discounted price which includes a complete a range of Food Hygiene eLearning courses. Sign up today for just £2.60 a week and you will be able to take full advantage of all the benefits we offer so your business can begin, grow and improve 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.