Understanding your Restaurant Hygiene RatingA good hygiene rating can have a obvious positive impact on your business; research shows that for takeaways this can lead to a 45% increase in orders, so you need to make sure you're up to date on the scheme.
Food hygiene ratings are becoming a crucial aspect of the modern customer’s decision-making process, helping them to choose the right restaurant alongside other factors like the quality of the food, the customer service offered by the staff, and how close the restaurant is located to them.
Displaying your hygiene rating means that customers don’t need to rely on guesswork to find out how sanitary your restaurant is.
What is the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme?
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) covers restaurants, cafes, supermarkets and other food outlets in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It aims to inform consumers of a restaurant’s cooking and cleanliness standards, and ultimately protects customers from food poisoning.
The hygiene rating system is easy to understand from a customer’s point of view. Food businesses are rated from 0 (urgent improvement necessary) to 5 (very good) on their hygiene standards at the time of inspection by the local authority.
A scheme with similar aims —the Food Hygiene Information Scheme — runs in Scotland. Scottish businesses receive a simplified rating, which either gives restaurants a ‘pass’ or ‘improvement required’ rating.
However ratings are only given following an inspection by an environmental health officer, so make sure your eatery is registered with your local authority.
How the FHRS rating affects your business
Good hygiene is good for business, and FSA research shows that more businesses are displaying their rating for customers to see. Displaying these ratings is important because many people make spontaneous decisions about where to eat or buy takeaway food, and many consumers are actively looking out for the stickers in windows or on doors to help them make their ‘eating out’ decisions.
If you have a rating between 3 and 5 —which research tells us consumers find acceptable — make sure your sticker is displayed where your customers can see it! Doing so will show your customers that you take food hygiene seriously, and will help ensure you don’t lose out to your competitors.
If your restaurant has been awarded with a high rating then it makes sense to shout about your success. You could for instance make the most of your food hygiene rating by including it on promotional materials such as menu flyers or advertising material. If you would like to find out how to get the most out of your hygiene rating why not try using the FSA toolkit for businesses.
The profile of the scheme will surely continue to rise, which brings a real incentive for businesses with low ratings to improve their standards. All businesses should be able to achieve the top rating, and you can get help and advice on how to do this from an environmental safety officer from your local council.
Some key tips to landing a top FHRS rating
The build-up of grease in the kitchen is a key element of any hygiene inspection. There is on average one kitchen fire every day in the London area alone, and in nine out of ten cases the cause of the fire was down to a build-up of grease deposits in the grease extract ducting. If you are unable to clean away the grease yourself then make sure to employ the services of a professional to do it for you.
Keep clean, for allergies sake. Allergic reactions, and in more extreme cases anaphylactic shocks, can be caused by the smallest traces of allergens in the kitchen area. Experts warn that utensils must be washed thoroughly after use, and food preparation areas must be kept separate to prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen.
Cleanliness is crucial to a good food hygiene rating. To help you keep your restaurant at the required levels of cleanliness, P&G Professional has launched a handy guide to support restaurateurs in their cleaning and hygiene operations.
Good to know: A 2014 report from Which? has warned that government budget cuts are leaving some local authorities unable to enforce adequate food hygiene checks. In response, the Food Standards Agency will be working with councils in areas singled out by the Which? report to help them make improvements and ensure local businesses are complying with industry hygiene standards.
This article has been contributed by the Food Standards Agency, which working alongside local authorities runs the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. Visit them at www.food. gov.uk, or visit their dedicated ratings website for more info.