The numbered hygiene rating is given out to all restaurants and food establishments by local authorities. The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) helps customers choose where to eat by informing them how seriously the restaurant takes its cleanliness. It is an essential rating system that is used to encourage trust among the public. Restaurants or food establishments with poor ratings will generally see fewer customers coming through the door than those with higher standards. It’s therefore used as a deterrent for food establishments who might cut corners when it comes to hygiene. The threat of fewer customers and consequently less revenue is enough to ensure that the food rating scales are adhered to.
But how does it work? And what are the local agencies looking out for when inspecting the premises? The food safety officer will look for three fundamental things;
How hygienically the food is being handled. This includes looking at exactly how food is stored, prepared, cooked and reheated
Secondly, the inspector will take a look at the building and decide whether or not it meets the standards set for cleanliness, lighting, ventilation and other facilities and potential issues
Finally, how the business manages and records its methods and what it does to ensure that food is safe is also examined
Once the inspector has completed made their decision, they will award the restaurant a numbered rating, which should be displayed at the front of the restaurant for all customers to see. The rating will scale from 0-5. The top rating of 5 means the business passes all the required fields and is considered to have very good hygiene levels. Ratings of 0-2 are poor with drastic improvements required and 3 is considered satisfactory. These ratings, as you can imagine, have a huge impact on the way customers will view a restaurant.
Everyone has access to your food ratings through the government’s website. From here they can view your hygiene rating and make their own mind up about the cleanliness of the establishment. There is no breakdown of why some ratings are lower than others available to the public, so an error that may seem small to the owner and in their view, may not affect the experience of the customer, could be translated as overall poor hygiene by the customer who only has the rating scale to reference.
For a business to achieve the highest rating they must make the improvements set out by the inspector on the visit. The officers are there to give practical advice on how to make improvements, which should be considered and implemented. To ensure that the scheme is fair, businesses have a set of safeguards to refer to, should they feel that the decision is harsh. This gives the business grounds on which to appeal any decision, the right to reply and an opportunity to request a re-visit once improvements had been made. These safeguards allow for food establishments to ensure that the right decision is met. Fundamentally the rating is used so that customers are sure that they are getting the most hygienic service possible.