What Are Food Hygiene Ratings?

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In this blog we will be looking at the Food Standards Agency, Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and covering the Key areas.

Why do we need a Food Rating Scheme?

The scheme is in place to help the public choose where to eat and shop for food by giving them clear information about your businesses hygiene standards.

The Food Standard Agency runs the scheme in partnership with the local council. Following an inspection, the Environmental Health Officer will give your business a rating from 5 to 0 so the public can make an informed choice about where to buy and eat food.

Your rating will be added to the Food Standards Agency website including the 3 main elements of the inspection, you will also be given a sticker showing your rating to be placed in your window.

GOOD or BAD your rating is available for the public to see so it makes sense to achieve the highest rating possible

Do you need a food hygiene rating? Ratings are awarded to places where food is sold, consumed or supplied such as:

  • Restaurants
  • Takeaways
  • Pubs
  • Cafes
  • Schools
  • Academies
  • Care homes
  • Commercial Kitchens

There are many more food outlets that the ratings apply to but theses would be considered the main ones.

What Do The Food Hygiene Rating Scores Mean?

5 – Hygiene standards are very good

A Hygiene Rating of 5 offers the customer the highest level of confidence in the business, everyone Food Outlet should strive to achieve a 5 Star Rating.

4 – Hygiene standards are good

A Hygiene Rating of 4 is good and will be seen by customer as a trusted place to purchase or consume food.

There will be minor issues and concerns on the report from the Environmental Health Officer, these should be address a.s.a.p. once addressed the business owner should but a request in for a re-inspection.

3 – Hygiene standards are generally satisfactory

A Hygiene Rating of 3, although this is deemed as “generally satisfactory” by the Food Standards Agency customer confidence will be low.

To improve this and retain you customer base as well as pulling in new customers, improvement should be made immediately checking off of the recommendations and issues on the list. Again as with 4 once addressed request a re-inspection.

2 – Some improvement is necessary

A Hygiene Rating of 2, can be due to a number of issues but ultimately shows a loss of confidence in the managements ability to keep to the standards laid out in the Safer Food Better Business For Caterers pack. The businesses reputation can really be damaged at this point.

1 – major improvement is necessary

0 – urgent improvement is required

What happens during a Food Hygiene Rating inspection?

The Environmental Health Officer will check three main elements:

  1. Is the food being handled hygienically: That’s broken down into, how is food being prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored.
  2. The condition of the premises both front and back of house and will include: How clean and tidy areas are what pest control procedures you have in place, the layout, ventilation and even lighting.
  3. How your business manages ways of keeping food safe: Looking at processes, staff training and the systems you have in place to ensure good hygiene is maintained.

From the 3 main elements, the officer can then assess the level of confidence in standards being maintained in the future to achieve the top Food Hygiene rating your business must do well in all three elements if you do not achieve a 5-star rating, the officer will explain the necessary actions that are needed to improve your rating.

What happens if you get a low rating?

Businesses that are given a low rating must carry out urgent and sometimes major improvements to the standard of hygiene within the premises.

If the officer finds there is an imminent risk to public health from a pest infestation or food that is unsafe to eat, there are several enforcement options available to them. This is to ensure improvements are made and can result in stopping part of the business trading or closing it down completely until the improvements have been made and it is deemed safe to reopen.

How often will my business be inspected?

Each local authority has a yearly inspection program, the frequency of the inspections depends on the potential risk to public health.

Businesses that pose a higher risk level will, of course, be inspected more often than a business with a lower risk level, as a rule of thumb,

if you are a high-risk food outlet there could be 6 months between inspections with that increasing to 2 years for very low-risk food outlets.

A new hygiene rating is given each time a new inspection is carried out, depending on the findings you may be monitored in-between inspections, during these monitoring visits if the checks reveal a cause for concern the officer will carry out a full re-inspection and again issue a new hygiene rating.

What to know more? Visit our Food Hygiene page


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