Food Hygiene Ratings – Get a Good Score
Across the Western world businesses are being graded publicly according to how safe or hygienic they are to eat in. Not all countries have food hygiene ratings schemes in place but where they are implemented they are having a significant impact.
The situation in the U.S varies according to State and the public health bodies based within different Boroughs. In New York City, for example, inspectors use a grading system based on the number of points scored. The restaurant is awarded a grade of ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’ according to how they perform. The schemes running in Europe are similar and are all based on compliance with EC laws. In France a relatively new system called Alim Confiance (‘trust in food’) has launched which provides scores based on smiley faces online. In the UK a food hygiene rating scheme has been long established and is based on a score of 0 to 5. Getting the best food safety rating can be a challenge for many smaller independent food business operators.
The main principle behind all food rating schemes is that, through graded ratings, good businesses are rewarded for their efforts. Conversely, a badly performing businesses is, effectively, punished and encouraged to improve.
Why should I worry about food hygiene ratings?
Getting a good rating is important for so many reasons; many of which are obvious. For example, if you get a poor score it is likely that you are contravening food hygiene legislation – putting customers at risk and running the risk of enforcement action. Then there is the fact that your score is publicised on the internet for all to see – a poor score can lead to a loss of reputation and loss of custom. However, there are also number of other considerations that are not so obvious. Were you aware of the following examples?
- Ratings are used to judge how well a business or operation is managed.
- Local and national press regularly highlight poor scores by ‘naming and shaming’.
- Companies are rejecting or awarding catering contracts on the basis of ratings.
- Prospective buyers are using it to inform on the value of a business.
- Like anyone else, insurance companies and potential claimants can view ratings.
How do I get a good food hygiene rating then?
Knowing what you need to do to achieve a good rating is just as important for those who wish to maintain higher ratings as it is for those who need to improve. The scheme is based upon your level of compliance with food hygiene rules and there is no secret recipe for rating highly – compliance with all the relevant legal requirements will result in a good score.
However, is true that some requirements are weighted more heavily than others. In Europe, the requirement to document and implement a food hygiene management procedures are one such example. Without a food safety management procedure (or “HACCP”) a high rating may be impossible. General areas of compliance are arranged into categories. Due the way many schemes operate you could easily find yourself moving down the ratings if you receive a poor score in just one category (even if your overall score is reasonable). Whereas, minor shortcomings will not be penalised heavily unless there are lots of them. Follow my top tips for success to score highly.
This online tutorial provides in depth guidance on the subject.