Five-star performance: How to secure the top food hygiene rating
In this era of openness and transparency, the publication of food hygiene ratings has the ability to make or break a food outlet’s reputation in an instant.
Local newspapers and websites pore over the scores, ready to name and shame any restaurant, takeaway, café, sandwich shop, pub or hotel with a poor rating.
The food hygiene scheme may be a source of sustenance for the media and an information-hungry public, but for an eatery owner it can turn a feast of business into famine virtually overnight!
An increasingly savvy and health-conscious public will be inclined to stay away from any establishment with a zero score. News of poor food hygiene ratings can spread like wildfire thanks to social media.
Fair enough, you might say. Any business that fails to maintain good health and hygiene standards deserves to be exposed. Here at Saracen Solutions we’d be inclined to agree, but what about those establishments that languish in mid-table? Will they lose customers as a result?
It’s hard to be 100% certain of the impact on sales, but compared to a top score, a rating of 2 or 3 suggests competence rather than excellence, mediocrity rather than distinction, and a “that’ll do” approach rather than a determination to give customers the very best.
This may or may not be a fair characterisation of your business, but that’s irrelevant. Customers will make a snap judgement based on your rating – that’s just human nature!
So how can food outlets with a food hygiene rating of 1, 2 or 3 turn that into a top score of 5 next time around?
There is plenty of information and guidance on ‘Safer food, better business’ section of the Food Standards Agency website, from videos on how to prepare food safely to downloadable food safety management packs.
You should also refer back to the practical advice given to you by the food safety officer during your most recent inspection. Document improvements that have been made, and include detail on how you made them.
The officer will want to see clear, tangible changes in your approach to food hygiene. This may sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many businesses make improvements and then forget to keep evidence of them!