What do food hygiene ratings mean?
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Food Standards Agency’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) operates by sending health inspectors to your food establishment once it is registered with your local authority. After making various checks on hygiene standards within your premises, they then assign your establishment an overall food hygiene rating. This is primarily to help consumers make informed decisions based on hygiene.
The FHRS scores follow a simple system ranked from 0-5:
- 0 – urgent improvements to food hygiene are needed
- 1 – major improvements are required
- 2 – some hygiene improvements are necessary
- 3 – food hygiene standards are satisfactory
- 4 – hygiene standards are good
- 5 – food hygiene standards are excellent
Do I have to display my food hygiene rating?
In Wales and Northern Ireland, it is a legal requirement for a food establishment to prominently display their food hygiene rating in their premises. While it is not currently a legal requirement for a food establishment to display their hygiene rating in England, it is possible that this will change in the future. Displaying ratings is not mandatory in Scotland, either, although Scotland runs its own version of the scheme in which food establishments are simply either given a pass for food hygiene or told that improvements need to be made.
Government research states that over three-quarters of English food establishments believe compulsory display of hygiene ratings would be a good thing. Additionally, the 55% of English businesses that do display their ratings cite customer assurance as their biggest reason for doing so. Over a third of establishments also said that displaying their rating had a positive impact on their business. Considering the potential benefits to insurance premiums, achieving a good food hygiene rating and displaying it could both save you money on insurance and make you more money in customer business. So, attaining a 5-star rating should be a goal to strive for.
What do food hygiene inspectors look for?
Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) will visit your premises to carry out a full hygiene inspection and assign a rating from 0-5 based on their findings. They generally focus on three key areas:
- Food Hygiene Compliance – this includes assessing how food is handled, prepared and stored
- Structural Compliance – this assesses the cleanliness and functionality of your building and its facilities, such as toilets, lighting and workstations
- Management Confidence – this assesses whether staff are being correctly trained to maintain hygiene standards and whether this is being enforced by management’s policies and procedures or not
Performing strongly in all three categories will grant your business a high rating, with a 5-star rating being likely if you excel in each. A poorer performance in one or more categories will mean a lower rating and that improvements will be required, alongside more frequent inspections to monitor whether improvements are being made.
Food Hygiene Tips
To increase your chances of achieving a 5-star food hygiene rating, the following advice is recommended:
- Create and stick to a food preparation schedule, such as preparing ready-to-eat foods before raw foodstuffs, cleaning surfaces thoroughly between the two
- If you have space available, assign separate workspaces for raw meat, fish, vegetables and ready-to-eat foods while maintaining standards of frequent cleaning
- Mitigate cross-contamination risk by washing raw and ready-to-eat foods in separate sinks where possible
- Maintain a rigid cleaning schedule, ensuring the workspace is cleaned every day and tasks are easily manageable
- Deep clean fridges at least monthly and ovens on a weekly basis
- Ensure bins are regularly emptied and never allowed to overflow
- Ensure handwashing sinks are always well-stocked with antibacterial soap and that blue tissue roll is easily accessible for drying hands and mopping up spills
- Ensure staff are fully trained on safely preparing food and reducing cross-contamination risks
- Make sure staff know not to wear jewellery and watches in the kitchen, adhere to handwashing best practices and wear the appropriate protective clothing and coverings such as hair nets
- Hold refresher training regularly for all kitchen staff
- Ensure that records are being kept of all cleaning activities, including daily check sheets for fridge, freezer and food temperatures
- Make sure that this documentation is filled out up until the date of inspection, as any gaps in the checks will impact your final FHRS rating
By following these steps, you will hopefully achieve a 5-star food hygiene rating and the potential insurance benefits alongside it. To see how much you could save with your new 5-star rating, explore our broking service at Brightside Takeaway Insurance and get a quote today.