How to Get a Five Star Food Hygiene Rating
Every food and beverage establishment should aspire to the highest food hygiene standards. Food safety is essential to a business's reputation, and more importantly, their customers' health. Therefore, it is imperative that food preparation and service areas are clean and food is fit for consumption.
To quantify food standards, the government introduced the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) in 2008. Currently, this applies to all establishments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Wales and Northern Ireland, businesses are obliged to display their food hygiene rating, with it looking likely that this will soon be mandatory in England too. Whereas before every local authority had its own system, FHRS unified food hygiene standards in the UK through a consistent, legible scale.
How Are Food Hygiene Ratings Calculated?
The FHRS system gives and food and beverage-serving establishments a rating from 0 to 5. As zero is considered a score, there are in fact six levels of food hygiene ratings. These are:
- 0: Urgent improvement necessary
- 1: Major improvement necessary
- 2: Improvement necessary
- 3: Generally satisfactory
- 4: Good
- 5: Very good
To calculate a food hygiene rating, an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will visit the establishment in question. They will carry out the inspection in line with the Food Law Code of Practice, which includes three principal areas: food hygiene compliance, such as how food is prepared, cooked and stored; the general hygiene and condition of the building itself; and their confidence in the management. All of these aspects are considered when awarding a score, and a bar, hotel, restaurant or cafe must demonstrate excellent performance in all areas to achieve a five-star score.
The Five Steps Towards a Five-star Food Hygiene Rating
If you're striving towards a five-star FHRS rating, it's essential to keep in mind the three key areas: hygiene, structure, and confidence in management. To make sure that you meet the EHO's requirements, you should apply the following five steps to your approach to food standards.
1. Address the Issues from Your Last Report
Establishments with low scores will have more frequent inspections. Therefore, it is essential that you heed the details of your most recent report. Read the EHO's comments carefully and ensure that all of their recommendations have been implemented, especially any legal requirements. Paying attention to previous reports is essential to the "confidence in management" criteria, so make sure you are familiar with their specifications. It's also prudent to look back over historic reports to ensure no issues have reemerged.
2. Do Regular, Thorough Deep Cleans
This is somewhat of a no-brainer, but deep cleans are crucial to a five-star food hygiene rating. Make sure your staff clean absolutely everywhere – and that means abiding by the time-honoured rule of "just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not dirty." Staff should pull out equipment, clean well into corners and shine torches into any dark or secluded areas. Furthermore, make sure any equipment faults or structural defects are reported, recorded and dealt with as quickly as possible – remember, a third of your overall score depends on hygiene and the quality of your building.
3. Implement a Water-tight Food Safety Management System
A legible, user-friendly food safety management system is essential to maintaining standards. You should base your document on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) method. This is an essential requirement for a five-star food hygiene rating so in some instances, it's advisable to seek advice on how to structure your processes and documentation.
4. Properly Train Your Staff
Staff training is key to both hygiene and confidence in management. Therefore, you need to make sure all your staff are fully aware of your HACCP hygiene management system. This information will include cleaning instructions, critical temperatures, personal hygiene and equipment separation. Regular staff meetings are a great way to re-cap knowledge, as well as regularly supervising service and clean-down.
5. Keep Accurate Records
Well-maintained records are essential to achieving a five-star food hygiene rating. Thus, the records of all of the activities mentioned above should be up-to-date. In addition, you should also implement and file daily check sheets of food temperatures, food storage temperatures, cleaning schedules, risk assessments and staff meeting minutes. Any discrepancies in this will bring confidence in management into question, leading to deducted points in this area.
Excellent Food Hygiene Is Key to Good Business
In the food and beverage industry, reputation is everything – so a five-star food hygiene rating is essential. To achieve this, you need exacting hygiene, clear procedures, a well-maintained building and well-organised records. With all these things, you can be confident you'll impress the EHO and gain a rating that will impress your customers.