Long before we’d ever heard about coronavirus and used hand sanitiser umpteen times a day, restaurants have been rated on hygiene, and not just by word of mouth. Food Hygiene Certificates let eating establishments know how well they are doing when it comes to cleanliness and kitchen safety, as well as notify potential customers of the hygiene standards that they can expect.
No stars, and customers will walk on by. 4 or 5 stars, and your Food Hygiene Certificate becomes a valuable promotional tool that will have visitors eager to buy from your menu.
While food hygiene ratings are not a guide to food quality, they are a good indication of how much care is put into the storage and preparation of food items in any establishment, and guard against customers unwittingly exposing themselves to food-borne bacteria and viruses. And with all UK takeaways and restaurants subject to government food hygiene inspections, there’s no better reason to employ commercial kitchen cleaning services from a trusted supplier, such as phs.
It’s compulsory to display Food Hygiene Certificates (Issued by the Foods Standards Agency or FSA) in Wales and Northern Ireland, and a recommendation in England. In Scotland, where food hygiene ratings are issued following inspections by the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS), catering businesses can also choose not to display their certificate or sticker. But if your hand washing, kitchen cleaning and disinfectants routines are up to scratch, why wouldn’t you boast about it?
For safer food and better business, cleaning schedules must be followed by all staff. No excuses.
What is the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS)?
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the FSA’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (or Food Hygiene Information Scheme in Scotland) gives anyone seeking somewhere to buy a meal or shop for food valuable information regarding an establishment’s hygiene standards. It applies to restaurants, cafes, takeaways, sandwich shops, food retailers and any other place where people eat food prepared away from the home.
The certificates that are issued following inspections provide an indication as to whether kitchen cleaning schedules are being followed, regular hand washing is taking place and bacteria is being kept at bay.
The FSA issues ratings up to 5 stars with over a third of people prepared to walk away from a 3-star food business and over 80% turning away from a 2-star establishment. According to the same report, consumers are prepared to spend nearly twice as much on a meal at a restaurant with a 5-star food hygiene rating as one with a 3-star Food Hygiene Certificate. Check FHRS food hygiene ratings, here.
The Scottish FHIS awards 3 different ratings: Pass, Improvement Required or Exempt Premises (inspected and judged to be low-risk to people’s health since food sales is a very minor part of the business). Check FHIS food hygiene ratings, here.
How are restaurants rated during food hygiene inspections?
During FSA Food Hygiene inspections, food safety officers will assess the whole business’ ability to demonstrate competency in 3 key food hygiene areas. These are the best cleaning tips to boost your food hygiene rating:
- Existing level of compliance with food hygiene and safety procedures – this covers staff hygiene routines as well as required food safety routines concerning storage and guarding against contamination. For example:
- good personal hygiene of staff, such as hand washing, covering cuts, wearing clean clothes, tying back or covering hair and facial hair, and using appropriate sanitisers and disinfectants
- correct temperature for food storage (including during transit)
- reduced risk of contamination by storing raw and ready-to-eat foods separately, as well as foods containing allergens
- bacteria are destroyed by thoroughly cooking or reheating food (70°C for 2 minutes, or 75°C for 30 seconds)
- clear labelling and observance of food expiry dates
- Existing level of compliance with structural requirements – including building structure, cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and pest control; water supply, drainage, hand washing facilities and waste disposal. For example:
- clean kitchen - regular kitchen deep cleaning to ensure food prep areas and equipment are free from grease and dirt
- working extractor fans
- clean and safe waste disposal routines
- well-lit, cool and ventilated storage
- easy access to hand washing basins, separate from food preparation areas
- well-used, familiar cleaning procedures
- Confidence in management/control procedures – inspections will test whether food safety management/control procedures are appropriate and management has a good attitude towards food hygiene; hazards are correctly identified and controlled; and routines will be maintained in the future. For example:
- satisfactory and properly documented management procedures that are understood by all staff
- knowledge of hygiene and food safety and relevant training to maintain/introduce this knowledge
- history of complaints and business’ ability to react to advice
If a food business’s hygiene standards provide a risk to public health the food standards officer can stop part of the business or close it all down until remedies have been put in place safely.
Want more of the best cleaning tips to pass food hygiene inspections?
Food safety officers will plan to visit your business based on the perceived risk to public health – anywhere between 6 months and 2 years. Make sure that you are ready for your food hygiene inspections with some of our best cleaning tips:
Be prepared - by law, food hygiene inspections can take place without appointment or advance notice. This is in order to find your premises in its usual routine and state of work. Regular treatments from a kitchen deep cleaning company will mean that your premises are always spick and span.
Practise your kitchen cleaning schedule - implement a food management system, such as the FSA’s Safer Food, Better Business cleaning schedule.
Listen to advice – if your restaurant or food outlet falls short in any of the three key areas, the food safety officer will explain to you where you can improve in order to achieve a higher rating. You can request a copy of the full inspections report from your local authority.
Train, train and train some more – instructing staff on kitchen safety, food hygiene and kitchen cleaning routines is an investment well made. This is one of the criteria assessed by the FSA.
Don’t wait for food safety inspections to knock on your door, speak to phs today to arrange regular commercial kitchen cleaning. Adding kitchen deep cleaning to your kitchen cleaning schedule today could save you from worrying about food hygiene ratings forever.Contact us today