The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) is a resource that helps you to make an informed choice about where you eat and shop for food. It gives you a rating on the hygiene standards of pubs, restaurants, cafes, takeaways, hotels and shops to give you piece of mind about the food you eat. So as to keep the larger chains honest, supermarkets and other food shops are also included in the scheme.
In partnership with the Food Standards Agency (FSA)
In order to give the service even more validity, it is in partnership with the FSA, one of the UK’s main governing bodies that help to keep everything food and nutrition honest, accurate and safe. The idea of this ‘rating’ is to allow local authorities to work closely with food safety officers in order to show how closely a business is adhering to the requirements of food safety law! The food safety inspector will issue the business with a hygiene rating which should be presented in the window or on the door, alternatively they may well present this as a certificate on the wall…probable depending on their score! If a business has a certificate on display, and provided it isn’t a particularly low score, then you can eat or buy from there with relative piece of mind. For example, Welsh establishments will have to present their FHRS sticker in a ‘prominent place’. Sellers will also be obliged to present their food hygiene rating on demand, should a customer ask.
Have a little look before you ask them to cook
Next time you’re planning a dinner date with somebody, or even looking to order a takeaway take a quick look on the FHRS website to see if the scheme is running in your area, then ask the business for their hygiene rating (if you're interested). Granted you are only able to search for companies hygiene ratings if they are in an area that supports the scheme, but one would hope that in time this will become mandatory any way!
What specifically will a food safety officer assess?
The food safety officer carrying out the checks will inspect how well the business is meeting food safety LAWS, yes, meeting food hygiene standards is a very important legal matter! The officer will check the following:
- How the food is handled, prepared, cooked, re-heated and stored
- The general cleanliness of the building itself, its layout, lighting, ventilation and the overall structural integrity of the building
- If the business has a structured plan in place to monitor how it manages and records everyday food practices Once the food safety officer has completed his searches, the business is given one of six ratings. The top rating of ‘5’ means the business was found to have ‘very good’ hygiene standards…this is of course the least one would expect from an establishment handling their food!
Food Standards Agency, (2014). Find out more about food hygiene ratings. Retrieved 5th June, 2014, from http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/hygiene-rating-schemes/ratings-find-out-more-en/