The food hygiene rating scheme is essential to protect public health. The scheme helps you to choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving clear information about the businesses’ hygiene standards on the day that it was inspected.
Consumers will actively look for a good food hygiene rating being achieved so it is important for any food business to aim for the 5 Star Hygiene Rating giving consumer confidence and more diners/shoppers through your door.
The Hygiene Rating Scheme provides businesses a score as follows:
5 – Hygiene standards are very good
4 – Hygiene standards are good
3 – Hygiene standards are generally satisfactory
2 – Some improvement is necessary
1 – Major improvement is necessary
0 – Urgent improvement is required
To achieve the 5 Star here are a few things that you should be considering.
One common mistake is the storage of ready to eat foods with raw foods such as meat and fish. Even raw vegetables such as spinach and lettuce are particularly vulnerable to E.coli. If raw foods are perishable they should be separated from high risk foods in a separate refrigerator. Remember to monitor temperature control and stock rotation systems.
- Preparation and Cross Contamination
By having a well designed system and workflow in place you will lowering the risk. Ideally this should be linear and designed to separate clean and dirty processes.
Do you have separate sinks if viable to wash meat and vegetables?
Do you have separate chopping boards/knives and all colour coded?
Using the same preparation area for raw and ready to eat foods can cause cross contamination.
Common causes of cross contamination can also be from leaving food uncovered, using the same utensils, handling raw and then ready to eat foods without washing hands or equipment.
Certain foods can produce serious life threatening reactions in some people so ensure you pay particular attention to the 14 major allergens.
Best practice involves a “clean as you go” approach to prevent build up of bacteria that will multiply. Introduce Cleaning schedules, equipment, select detergents, disinfectants and sanitisers, Personal Protective Equipment and remember storage requirements.
Rubbish disposal will attract pests. It is important to be dealt with effectively.
- Staff Training
All food handlers must receive appropriate training that is relevant to their duties, it is a legal requirement. If something goes wrong, evidence of formal training may help in a defence of “due diligence”.
- Record Keeping and being prepared
It is extremely important to have a comprehensive food safety management system in place and that your are prepared for the day to day running of your food business. Preparing fully will also demonstrate to the Environmental Health Officers that you are worthy of the top 5 star rating.
Documents and Policies could include the following:
Control systems to minimise risk
Training logs for each employee and food handler
Implementation of cleaning schedules
Inspection of deliveries
Policies such as a Food Safety Policy, HACCP, Health & Safety and Risk Assessments
Get food safety wrong and the consequences can cause serious ill health or be deadly. In addition serious breaches in the law can result in unlimited fines and a prison sentence of up to 2 years.