Seven Common Reasons for a Low Food Hygiene Rating!
Following on from my comments on BBC West Midlands in November and my radio interview with BBC Coventry and Warwickshire on the 17th June 2015; I thought it would be a good idea to remind people of the most common reasons why food businesses fail to achieve a ‘good’ or ‘very good’ food hygiene rating. I was invited onto the breakfast show to give some insight into why a wide range of eateries in the Coventry and Warwickshire area, have only attained a food hygiene rating of “1” from the Local Authority – with some premises awarded “0” out of a possible “5”.
Every food business, whether it be a large supermarket, a branded restaurant chain or a small proprietor run café, have the potential to be awarded the Food Standards Agency maximum food hygiene rating of 5 (very good). The maximum rating demonstrates to your customers that you not only value their custom, but you’re working hard to ensure the highest possible standards of food safety and that food purchased from your premises won’t make them unwell.
The food safety officer inspecting a business will work out and award an overall Food Hygiene Rating based across three different areas, which are:
- How hygienically the food is handled – how food is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored.
- The condition, layout and structure of the building- including the cleanliness, lighting, ventilation as well as other facilities and amenities.
- Confidence in management – how effectively the business manages food safety.
Unfortunately, although many businesses have the potential to be awarded a very good rating, they don’t actually achieve it because of a failure to develop, implement, and adhere to some very straightforward procedures. Based on our experience, these are the seven most common reasons why businesses fail to achieve a very good food hygiene rating:
- No documented food safety management system in place. (Whilst the premises may not be dirty, there’s no documented evidence that food safety is being taken seriously. Remember: If it’s not written down, there’s no proof!)
- Failure to actively and diligently manage an existing food safety system. (Documentation and monitoring records such as fridge/freezer temperatures etc. must be filled in regularly and in a timely manner. Depending on the type of business, this will require records to be completed several times each day.)
- Lack of knowledge. (A failure to keep abreast of current legislation may result in a food safety management system that is no longer “fit for purpose”.)
- Business operators viewing food safety as an ‘optional extra’. (During the course of a busy and pressurised day, when customer numbers are high, there may be a temptation to serve food quickly rather than safely.)
- Lack of staff training. (Many food service businesses employ additional staff during the summer but fail to provide them with adequate training. Some small business operators working on narrow margins are often tempted to view training for casual or seasonal staff as a waste of money.)
- Poor hygiene habits of food handlers. (Even where food safety training has been delivered, management may fail to ensure staff actually adhere to it!)
- Poor cleaning practices due to poor structure and layout of the premises. (Food businesses by law should have adequate lighting, ventilation, drainage and a dependable supply of hot and cold potable water, with separate sinks for hand washing and food preparation. Poorly laid out or difficult to access areas, such as behind ovens and freezers, may result in staff failing to clean effectively, which can result in a build-up of dangerous levels of bacteria and an infestation of pests.)
If you would like help implementing a food safety management system for your business, or help in achieving the Food Standards Agency maximum food hygiene rating, contact Sam Turner at CaterSafe Consultants: https://catersafeconsultants.co.uk/contact-us