Compliance, Food & Beverage, Lifestyle, Local Business, Tourism

UK Businesses Warned of New Food Hygiene Legislation

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UK food hygine norms

In The Simpsons’ episode “Bart gets an F”, the show ends with Bart telling everyone delightedly that he managed to score a D-, thereby (just) passing the test.  In food hygiene, the equivalent of a D- is a three-star rating and research from NFU Mutual suggests that consumers are unlikely to be impressed by it.

Outlets need to be rated four stars (good) or five stars (very good) to impress customers

Almost half of the people surveyed by NFU Mutual indicated that they would cease to buy food from even their favourite outlets if they discovered that the outlet had a food hygiene rating of less than four stars.  This may come as a surprise to owners of food outlets who have three-star ratings and plenty of happy and healthy customers and it’s a surprise which could turn into a nasty shock to their income unless they take action now.

From 2019 it will be mandatory for food outlets in England to display their food hygiene ratings

It’s already mandatory for food outlets in Wales and Northern Ireland to display their food hygiene ratings in a prominent place and it is entirely possible that Scotland will introduce such rules in the near future.  Approximately 82% of hospitality-sector food outlets in England have already achieved four- or five-star ratings but that still leaves about 43,000 catering and hospitality business in England with ratings of three stars (or less).  It is very much in the best interests of these businesses to secure a rating of four or five stars prior to the implementation of the new legislation.

Getting that extra star

In basic terms, the food hygiene scores assess three areas of competence: (1) the conditions of your building, (2) how you handle, store, and prepare food, and (3) how records are kept, cleaning is organised, and staff are trained.  Getting the highest scores basically means that you have to do more than just know what you are doing, you have to be able to show that you know what you are doing.  Many food law barristers and local authorities will give guidance on what you have to do to move from a three-star rating to a four- or a five-star rating, here are few tips for you to consider.

Create a document to show how food-handlers are educated on the level of personal hygiene required and how to maintain it, e.g. proper hand-washing techniques.

Consider only hiring staff with an externally-verified food-hygiene certificate or assisting them to achieve such a certificate within a certain time.

Review your record keeping.  Simply improving your documentation process for ensuring food safety could be enough to push you up to a higher score.  You may know your cleaning rota off by heart, you may be confident that all your staff does to, but as we have already stated, you need to show what you know.

The clock is ticking

Food inspectors are busy people and if you only achieve a three-star rating on your next inspection, you may have to wait for some time before you get a chance to improve on it.  In this situation, time really could be money, so prompt action is strongly recommended.

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Peter Scully

Marketing Director at SF Media
Keen author and blogger. Peter writes on a number of topics he has a personal interest in, including brand promotion, marketing, social media, online marketing and small business advertising.
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