Owning a business which deals with fresh food can be very stressful. From ordering the correct amount of food so it doesn't spoil, making sure your staff are happy, to keeping up with accounts. It's never ending.
But good food hygiene practices are very critical for people’s health, and should not get forgotten. Having a hygiene system in place in the food and beverage industry is so important.
Having poor hygiene in the kitchen, poor to no stock rotation or no record keeping system in place is a dangerous thing.
Food safety issues can destroy a business' reputation in a small amount of time.
But it shouldn't be that way.
Over the next few minutes, let's talk about what a 5 star food hygiene rating is and how to achieve one.
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme was designed to allow customers wanting to eat out, to quickly find out what the standards of food hygiene are wherever they wish to eat.
The government-led Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is run by the Food Standards Agency. It operates in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Scotland has its own version called the Food Hygiene Information Scheme which operates on a two score Pass/Improvement Required system. You can find out more about The Food Hygiene Information Scheme here.
The 5 star rating scheme tells how well the business is doing based on the standards found at the time of the previous inspection.
The ratings can be found online and businesses are given a sticker to be displayed on location, however displaying the rating isn't required by law everywhere. The backside of the sticker will show the inspectors name and time and date of the inspection.
Almost all businesses which sell food are given rankings. Here are a few places ratings will be given to:
Some businesses are exempt from the rating scheme as they are designated low risk. Businesses such as Sweet shops and Tourist Information centres who only sell toffee are often exempt.
The rating is designed to assess the hygiene levels of all food businesses in the UK, and check that they have a system in place to ensure that it's safe to consume food there.
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme issues ratings from 0 – 5.
These grades are given to the business after it has been assessed and inspected to see how well they comply with food safety laws in the UK. You can find a more detailed breakdown of how the points are awarded in our article How are Food Hygiene Ratings Calculated but the aim is to get as few points as possible.
Let's take a look at the ratings and what they mean:
If you get a 0 star rating, then urgent improvement is necessary. Getting a 0 rating means your business got more than 50 points in total.
For example, food stored in the wrong location, dirty areas, or failing to keep records for fridge temperatures. All of these could all potentially be dangerous for people health, putting lives at risk.
If you get a 1 star rating, then it means some significant improvements are needed. A business will receive this if they have between 45 – 50 points.
If you get a 2 star rating, this means that some improvements are needed. A 2 star is given for those businesses which score between 35 – 40 points.
If you get a 3 star rating, this means your overall businesses hygiene is generally satisfactory. You will receive a 3 if they score between 25 and 30.
If you get a 4 star rating this means your business was rated as good on inspection day. It means your business scored 20 points.
If you score a 5 star rating your business is in good shape. Companies that score a 5 score between 0 – 15 points will achieve a 5 star rating.
At the end of the day all food businesses should aim for and maintain a 5 food hygiene rating.
We'll talk more about points later on in another section and also what an inspector looks for in your business.
If you got a low score on your own businesses Food Hygiene Rating Scheme then doesn't worry further down the page I will tell you how to achieve 5 star rating.
When it’s time for your inspection, the Environmental Health Officer will look for these things, and score your business accordingly to how well you achieved them.
Food Hygiene and Safety – How food is prepared, cooked, re-heated, chilled down and then stored.
Structural Compliance – How cleanliness of the kitchen, layout, the lighting and also ventilation
Confidence in Management – Systems the business has in place to make sure food is safely sold to the public, and so the rating can be maintained.
So how do you achieve a 5 rating? You to get the basics of each of the above three criteria correct, and make sure you have documented it. There are also online courses available to help you improve your score, like this one from Highspeed Training. Some areas to focus on are:
A business that handles food on a daily basis needs some form of pest control management in place; this help protects your company against insects, nesting birds or rodents. If an inspector finds any signs of an infestation, he will mark you down accordingly. Correctly storing your waste is a part of pest control, so make sure it is well segregated and locked away if possible.
Raw food and cooked food should never be stored next to each other, such as raw fish and cheeses. Also, unwashed vegetables are classed as raw as they can contain E.coil and other harmful bacteria. Your system should include a constant method of monitoring and updating use by dates on products.
It’s important that you never allowed cross-contamination in food preparation to occur. You should always have separate areas for the different sections needed to run your business, for example preparing ready to eat foods and raw foods such as cutting raw meat in separate areas of the kicthen.
Training staff in personal hygiene is essential. They should know to wear clean and protective clothing and keep their hair tied back or under a hat when handling food.
They should also know how the businesses food hygiene system works. A degree of formal training is preferred, so using an online training tool such as Highspeed Training or Virtual College to give accredited training courses can be an inexpensive way to ensure you meet this requirement. You can see the list training courses we recommend on our resources page.
This is another major point to do. All of the previous items, that your business does on a daily basis should be recorded and kept up to date.
Also, fridge temperatures, food temperatures, cleaning and risk assessments must be done daily and maintained along with the continuous training of your staff.
If you would like to know more, check out our other articles on this topic: