03 Sep 2021 20 Action Points to Help Your Business Achieve a 5* Food Hygiene Rating
Did you know that the food hygiene rating scheme is so important and well-recognised by consumers that almost half will avoid buying from your business if you’ve scored less than four out of five?
The modern-day consumer’s decisions are increasingly influenced by ratings and feedback. You’re probably very likely to check out reviews on Google or Tripadvisor and decide whether to book a restaurant or hotel based on others opinions.
One step beyond the reviews of fellow consumers when it comes to the hygiene and cleanliness of an establishment is the food hygiene rating scheme.
What is the Food Hygiene Rating scheme?
The food hygiene rating scheme represents the educated opinions of highly trained individuals from the food standards agency (FSA). The FSA established the scheme in 2008 and it’s applicable to all food businesses in the UK, excluding Scotland.
When you open a food business an environmental health officer (EHO) from the FSA will visit to inspect your business premises and your documentation and record-keeping. The purpose of the inspection is to understand how your business operates against a checklist of points and to issue you with a rating that reflects how hygienic your operations are.
Food hygiene ratings will be within the range of 0 – 5, with each rating representing the following:
- 0 – Urgent improvement required
- 1 – Major improvement required
- 2 – Some improvement required
- 3 – Hygiene standards generally satisfactory
- 4 – Hygiene standards good
- 5 – Hygiene standards are very good
Simply, the higher the rating, the more safe your food is. The ratings are designed to give consumers informed choice about where to buy their food and it makes no sense for your business not to aim for the highest award.
It isn’t a legal requirement, but most businesses display a certificate showing their current score. A high food hygiene rating provides a reassuring welcome to potential customers. Not displaying your rating can demonstrate to potential customers that you might be keeping a dirty secret.
Why is it important to achieve a 5* Food Safety Rating?
If you are a food business owner, you must pass the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. Failure to do so could result in your business needing to close while you address the issues that have been picked up by the EHO.
Achieving a 5-start food hygiene rating can be an excellent way to communicate with potential customers and market your business. If you’re in an area with a lot of local competition, having a higher standard of food hygiene than your competitors could give you an advantage.
The FSA have a toolkit for how you can use your food hygiene rating to market your business. From how to display your rating on your website, to your leaflets, menus and marketing materials to posters informing your customers of what is entailed in achieving a high rating, they have a host of resources available here.
How do I achieve a 5-star Food Hygiene Rating?
Achieving a 5-star food hygiene rating is not easy, but it is absolutely achievable. We talk you through the essential steps your business needs to take to achieve a 5-star rating:
1. Check regularly for pests and have a pest control system in place.
2.Use Separate sinks for washing dishes and hands.
3.Regularly pull out equipment to clean behind and underneath.
4.Ensure accurate thermostats are installed on all cold storage appliances.
5.Make sure all storage areas are clean, tidy and free from hazards.
6.Regularly service and maintain equipment.
7.Develop a food safety system (Generally HACCP)
8.Document all food safety procedures
9.Design and stick to a thorough cleaning schedule.
10.Test, and document, food storage temperatures
11.Use food probes to check cooking temperatures, and keep them clean and calibrated
12.Display (and follow) correct handwashing procedures
13.Ensure staff are wearing appropriate protective clothing
14.Keep a first aid kit on the premises
15.Colour code chopping boards
16.Understand and follow safe food thawing procedures, being aware of the “danger zone”
17.Introduce anti-cross-contamination procedures, ensuring separate food prep areas for raw and ready to eat food
18.Ensure there are soap and paper towels at all handwashing stations, including in toilets
19.Ensure all cleaning cloths are single-use and washed at high temperatures if not disposable
20.Ensure all staff are fully trained
Adequate training is the most important aspect of achieving a 5-star Food Hygiene Rating
All staff involved in food preparation should have secure knowledge of food hygiene best practices and it’s your responsibility to ensure they are adequately trained. Proving that your staff have undertaken relevant industry training and know the procedures to follow and why they are important will reassure the EHO that you are deserving of the highest accolade in food hygiene ratings.
For more information on how to achieve the 5-star food hygiene rating and what criteria environmental health officers are looking for to award it, consider our e-Learning module Achieving Food Hygiene Rating Level 5.