Food hygiene rating review and impact on consumer confidence

Published: 8 Mar 2018

The Food Hygiene Rating System has become more and more recognised and understood by consumers throughout the UK. Food safety standards and consumer wellbeing have been the subject of news stories, although it is normally papers highlighting one-off low scores, there are now newspapers which update readers regularly on new food hygiene ratings in their county.

All food hygiene ratings are available online on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website allowing you to view what sites have scored in your area. In Wales all food hygiene ratings must be displayed at all entrances to food establishments. This has led to positive figures in the first 3 year review of the Food Hygiene Rating System.

In February this year the Food Standard Agency Wales (FSA) released its first 3-year review of the food hygiene rating system revealing that 84% of food businesses in Wales are displaying their food hygiene rating. This compares to just 21% of businesses in 2012. The report also highlighted that 65% of food businesses now have the highest food rating of 5 which is “very good”. This shows both the wider acceptance and adoption of the system and the improvement and knowledge based around the rating system leading to improving food hygiene knowledge and awareness throughout the industry and the public.

Although in England and Scotland it is not currently a requirement to display the food hygiene rating it is something which could happen in the future. More consumers think it is very important to know what rating a food business has as people are more aware of allergens and cross contamination and want to know more about the food they are eating.

Visits from the EHO are unannounced and often occur at a time the business may not want them to. It is important however to ensure you have a good food safety management system enforced at site. This will help to ensure food is safe and no matter when an EHO comes to visit you are prepared. Your site should have a good system in place with confident trained staff able to answer any questions which the EHO may ask.

CSC food safety management systems are approved and work well. We want all our clients to gain a rating of  '5'.

To make sure you are ready for an EHO and to ensure a top score here are some tips to help:

  1. Food Safety Management System - Having a good food safety management system at site with all the internal checks recorded and kept in good order and available to review. This can be easily checked and tested and must be from when foodstuffs arrive on site to when it is served including, for example, delivery checks, fridge/freezers records, core cooking records.
  2. Cross Contamination controls - Ensuring good segregation between raw and ready to eat. This includes separate raw and ready to eat preparation areas and ensuring raw products are kept separate in storage and at the bottom of fridges and freezers.
  3. Personal hygiene - Ensuring staff are regularly washing hands and working hygienically. Also ensuring they are wearing clean uniforms.
  4. Cleaning - Ensuring that the kitchen is kept in a good clean condition and any defects around the kitchen are reported and are being actioned.
  5. A managed approach to pest controlThe need for an integrated pest management system is of paramount concern in areas where pest activity is rife. It is expected that regular pest control visits by the pest control technician are conducted in conjunction with strict housekeeping protocols where all food sources/food debris are cleared to reduce the likelihood of pest attraction.