After much debate and a raft of inherently different schemes across local authorities for ranking food hygiene standards of businesses, the future looks clearer and more consistent with the introduction of a national food hygiene scheme. This scheme has been developed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), who told STS that “a single national approach is best for consumers to compare like with like, and provides a level playing field for all businesses”. The new scheme will assist the FSA to meet their key objective to improve food hygiene and safety.
The “Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS)” has started to roll out in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as has its Scottish equivalent “The Food Hygiene Information Scheme”.
“Early adopter” authorities have been using the new food hygiene rating system since autumn 2010, and although the scheme is presently voluntary, the scheme is likely to become mandatory in light of Lord Young’s report “Common Sense Common Safety” which recommends compulsory local authority participation in the scheme.
So, if your local environmental health department do not presently operate a food hygiene rating scheme, or use their own scheme (such as Scores on the Doors). It is likely that they will adopt/change to the FHRS later in 2011. In fact it is anticipated that by June around 170 authorities will have rolled out the scheme. The FSA’s aim is for the scheme to be fully adopted ready for the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012.
The new scheme bears similarities to the popular Scores on the Doors scheme, in that the rating given ranges from 0 (urgent improvement necessary) to 5 (very good), in contrast to the Scottish system of “pass” or “improvement required”.
Environmental Health Practitioners award the rating during the inspection of food businesses. By applying a rating system laid down in a Code of Practice, assessing three criteria:
The FSA told us that the scheme has been promoted both locally and nationally to consumers. This is so they can use ratings in making their choices about where to eat or shop for food. Ratings are published on line at www.food.gov.uk/ratings.
Display of ratings via certificates and stickers by food businesses is at present voluntary.
With your reputation at stake, you will understandably be keen to maximise your rating. Especially as this information is in the public domain.
STS understand how to attain high standards of food safety and secure great ratings.
STS have helped to make a real difference to organisation’s standards and ratings. Examples range from a health club whose food hygiene rating rocketed from 0 to 4 starts after one visit from an STS food safety coach, to a national restaurant chain who with STS’ support observe a marked year on year increase in their rating performance.