To get a 5-star rating from the Food Standard Agency Officer here are some tips to help you get started:
The Food Standards Agency’s ‘scores on the doors’ hygiene rating is one of the best-known badges of recognition for consumers.
What is a food hygiene rating?
Run by the Food Standards Agency, the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) operates in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Once you’ve registered your food business with the local authority, they may send an inspector to give you a hygiene rating.
The food hygiene rating provides consumers with a clear indication of hygiene standards, using a straightforward 1-5 score: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
The 5-star food hygiene rating logo gives customers greater confidence and reassurance. The Environmental Health Officer who inspected the business was happy that the premises are of suitable size, location, construction, and design to enable the production of safe and legal products. The food safety standard rating is a confirmation that your business is doing everything it can to protect its customers. Your customers do not know that in order to achieve the 5 stars on the doors, not only does your management and staff follow strict control and maintenance procedures such as a food safety management system, health, and safety policy, HACCP and WPRA (workplace risk assessment) and fire risk assessment, but also that you invested and keep investing inappropriate staff training. Then all your food handlers receive Level 1 health and safety and Level 2 food safety training, general managers, head and sous chefs all had to achieve Level 3 food hygiene training and front of house at least Level 1food hygiene training.
Customers can be safe in the knowledge that every job and work process is recorded and maintained. There is a safe and approved system in place and from the moment the chef places an order with their approved food supplier, everything is documented, recorded, and checked until the prepared food is served to the customer at the table or sent to their homes. Your business reputation on achieving the 5-star rating by the FSA will spread, your customer base will increase your sales will increase and so will your profit.
When an Environmental Health Officer comes to your premises the first thing the officer will look at is the overall picture or appearance of the business and the visible clues that show reasonable hygiene standards of the premise. Therefore, if it is the first time for the EHO to visit your premises, I would suggest that you first ask a friend or a colleague to come to visit your facility before the EHO comes. You should ask the friend to be honest and frank about what he or she sees or notices about your premise right from the outside appearance to the inside areas. You as the owner cannot get an honest opinion about your premise the same way a customer would. Therefore, let the friend or colleague go through the facility checking everything from the lighting, the floors, the kitchen area, dustbins the ceiling, the paint on the walls, the tables, chairs, and everything on the premises including the employees.
What do food hygiene inspectors look for?
To get a rating, Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) will visit the business to carry out a full hygiene inspection. They focus on three major areas:
- food hygiene compliance – including an assessment of how food is handled, prepared, and stored
- structural compliance – how clean is the building and its facilities? Is lighting suitable?
- management confidence – are staff being trained correctly to maintain hygiene standards? And what policies and procedures support this?
If a business performs strongly in all three areas it’ll be granted the 5-star food hygiene rating. However, if a business performs poorly, it’ll have to undergo more regular checks.
Preparation for the EHO visit
The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act, give the Local Authority Inspectors powers to do the following:
- Conduct examinations and investigations
- Enter a business premise at any reasonable time without notice to the owner
- Take measurements, food samples, and photographs of the premise
- Have materials and equipment dismantled and tested
- Take possession of an article and tell you why he or she is doing that and issue a receipt
- Inspect, record, and copy necessary documents
- Ask for information and make statements
With that said, here are the tips to get a 5-star rating from the Food Standard Agency:
- Wash your hands before you begin working and always wear a uniform
- Immediately report any health issues or sickness
- Always follow a cleaning schedule
- Use a sanitizer on work surfaces and equipment
- Always clean as you go
- Keep all utensils and work surfaces dry
- Do not allow water to collect at a particular place
- Avoid leaving food at room temperature
- Follow the FIFO rule when storing food
- Do not put an open can in the fridge
- Do not mix chemicals on assumption, always follow instructions
- Keep all chemicals away from foodstuffs and keep them in a locked secure place
- Label all allergens and keep them away from the foodstuffs
- Do not decant chemicals from their original containers
- Avoid underestimating your business and always be ready for an inspection, internal or external audits, and a visit by the EHO
- Always keep tabs on the main news alerts especially about product recalls. Maintaining good hygiene standards is vital for any business that sells food to the public. Failure to adhere to the rules and regulations might lead to the closure of your business.