Poor cleanliness could result in illness and higher costs for your business.
Plus, the majority of consumers will check for a food hygiene rating before choosing a food venue.
Find out everything you need to know about food hygiene ratings and how to get a top rating every time.
Why Food Hygiene is Important
It’s obvious why food hygiene is important; to stop us getting sick. But unfortunately, there’s around 2.4 million foodborne illnesses in the UK every year.
When more than half of those illnesses are linked to eating establishments, it’s clear some food businesses aren’t paying attention to basic food hygiene standards.
It’s no surprise then that cleanliness of a venue is the third most important factor when choosing a hospitality venue with 62% saying hygiene is more important since Covid.
More consumers, 69%, want hand sanitising to continue and 55% want hospitality to continue to have hygiene measures evident.
If you don’t keep a clean establishment then consumers won’t be back, with 59% of consumers saying they have a ‘one strike and you’re out’ policy.
Food Hygiene Ratings
The easiest way for consumers to check if food establishments are clean is by checking their food hygiene rating.
With 77% wanting to see the food hygiene rating and 49% wanting to see the latest audit results, it’s important to not only keep a clean business but make it clear to your customers.
While the highest rating is a 5, the majority of customers would still eat at a restaurant with a 4 or 3 rating, however, 80% would not eat at a restaurant with a rating of 2.
While a rating of 3 would still attract consumers, diners are willing to spend an average of £8 more, almost double, on a meal at a restaurant with a rating of 5.
What is a Food Hygiene Rating?
A food hygiene rating is a score from 1 to 5 letting consumers know the standard of food hygiene at your business is.
Councils in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales keep a list of food businesses in their region.
The food hygiene scores are:
5 – hygiene standards are very good
4 – hygiene standards are good
3 – hygiene standards are generally satisfactory
2 – some improvement is necessary
1 – major improvement is necessary
0 – urgent improvement is required
Is it Law to Display Your Food Hygiene Rating?
It varies throughout the UK. In Scotland and England, it is not compulsory to display your food hygiene rating, but it is law in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Even if it is not legal to display your food hygiene rating, 87% in a recent study knew about the food hygiene rating and of those, 95% thought it should the law to display your food rating.
Half of those in the study checked the food rating of a business in the past 12 months and 61% would be less likely to eat at a business that didn’t have their rating displayed at the entrance.
So, whether you are legally required to display your food hygiene rating or not, most consumers will check for it. Not displaying it could deter consumers and lead to fewer sales.
Who Decides Your Food Rating?
The local council of your region will send a food safety officer to inspect your business.
What is Checked During a Food Inspection?
- The handling of food
- how food is stored
- how food is prepared
- cleanliness of facilities
- how food safety is managed.
The Handling of Food
The inspector will check how the food is prepared, stored, cooked, heated, and cooled. For example, raw food cannot be stored beside cooked food, or it could spread bacteria. Once food is cooked it should be dated and should not be used after this date.
Cleanliness of Facilities
The cleanliness of the business doesn’t just include food preparation surfaces. It also takes into account the layout, lighting, ventilation, pest control, and other facilities.
How Food Safety is Managed
With all food businesses, there should be processes and records such as training records, that ensure a certain standard of food hygiene is practiced.
The officer can also assess the level of confidence in the standards being kept going forward.
How Often are Food Safety Inspections?
Inspections are usually carried out on a yearly basis; however, it can be sooner than this.
The frequency of inspections will depend on:
- type of food that is handled
- the number and type of customers, for example vulnerable groups
- types of processes carried out before the food is sold or served
- hygiene standards seen on the day of the last inspection.
Local authorities can inspect your business at any time. They can visit during a regular inspection or if there has been a complaint.
Do you Know When the Inspection Will Take Place?
Officers can arrive without an appointment at any reasonable time and have the right to enter your premises.
Can a Food Hygiene Officer Close Your Business?
Food inspectors have the authority to act if food hygiene standards do not meet the requirement. They can seize food or even close a premises if they feel there is a public health and safety issue.
They can also serve a formal legal notice and prosecute.
You will be given time to make the necessary change if they are not major issues.
Can you Appeal a Food Hygiene Rating Decision?
You can appeal to your local authority about the decision.
Tips for Getting a High Food Rating
It can be stressful trying to juggle everything that needs to be done in your food business and sometimes cleanliness may not seem a priority.
But it is easier to keep up to date with your cleaning rather than put it off and try to catch up later.
If your business is not kept to a certain standard of hygiene then not only could you receive a poor hygiene rating, but you could lose customers, risk spreading illness to staff and customers, and suffer higher costs as a result.
By following basic guidelines, you could save yourself a whole lot of stress. Here are tips on keeping your food business clean.
The 4 Cs of Food Hygiene
Cleaning, cooking, chilling, and cross-contamination. These are four major areas every food business needs to focus on.
It can be hard to monitor who is cleaning what in your business. How can you be sure that the cleaning tasks are getting done and getting done properly?
A cleaning schedule means keeping a written record of what is completed. It should include:
- What needs cleaned
- Who is responsible for different tasks
- How often areas and items should be cleaned
- How each task should be done
- What products should be used.
Timea Szoke from Spasso restaurant in London says, “We clean as we go. We have daily, weekly, and monthly checklists for all appliances and surfaces. We always leave the restaurant clean before closing and don’t leave anything for the next day.”
Around 60% of foodborne disease outbreaks are linked to eating establishments and commercial caterers.
And 33% of chefs and catering students admitted to seeing meat serviced ‘on the turn’.
Throwing away food may seem like throwing away money but it’s nothing compared to the money you will lose if your food business causes food poisoning.
After training, the biggest help to your business is keeping HACCP food safety management systems. This will help staff comply with the law and understand food hazards.
Do you know how long food can be chilled or frozen for before it has to be thrown out? Food is chilled to inhibit the growth of bacteria. If food isn’t properly chilled it can lead to food poisoning. Understanding the basic rules regarding chilling food can save you from a low food hygiene rating.
Cross-contamination is a big problem in kitchens. It happens when bacteria are spread from one place to another. This can happen in lots of ways such as mixing raw food with cooked or spreading germs by your hands.
For example, 32% of chefs and catering students admitted to working within 48 hours of suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting. This could mean these employees spreading their infection to the food when they handle it and causing sickness to customers.
Staffing can be an issue in food business as there is a high turnover of staff in this industry. But you should ensure staff know the regulations about coming in to work when they are ill. Do not put pressure on your staff to work or you could find yourself with a shortage of customers never mind staff.
Another area that food businesses need to focus on is properly training staff. When you have staff who are trained and up to date with the latest regulations, then half the battle is won. Without properly trained staff, everything else can fall like a house of cards.
They should have some sort of basic hygiene training given to them if they don’t already have this.
Training does take time and money but investing in this could save you a whole lot of bother in the long-term.
Staff should know the basics such as how to store food, labelling food, and basic personal hygiene.
Timea Szoke from Spasso restaurant in London says, “We use professional leaning materials and train our staff too on how to use them properly.”
As many as one in four workers didn’t wash their hands after using the toilet, so it’s not surprising that faecal bacteria is present on 26% of hands in the UK.
When 80% of communicable disease is transferred by touch, handwashing is a major factor in food hygiene. A shocking 40% of foodborne illnesses are transmitted through germs on hands.
As soon as chefs or food hygiene staff enter the kitchen, they should wash their hands and continue to wash their hands throughout the day.
Wash your hands signs have been proven to increase compliance and should be displayed at sinks to encourage staff.
Top Tips for Cleaning Your Kitchen
Some items in your kitchen could have 70% more bacteria than your toilet.
A study on the dirtiest places in your home, found Coliform, the bacteria that causes Salmonella and E. coli, and yeast and mould on kitchen items such as the kitchen sponge and chopping board.
High Touch Areas
In a busy kitchen, there will be many people touching certain equipment repeatedly. These are high touch areas and are the most likely to have a lot of germs.
Areas such as door handles and the sink. In a study of the dirtiest places in an office, door handles had 30 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.
Using antibacterial wipes will quickly clean these areas throughout the day to reduce the spread of bacteria from hands on to food.
Bulky equipment like cooker hoods can be forgotten. You can’t see how dirty they are until you open it, plus it can be a hassle to take it apart and time-consuming to wash.
There should be a rota of when equipment like this needs to be cleaned. You can take the vent down and give it a good scrub with multi-purpose spray. Remember to leave the spray on for at least five minutes to ensure there is plenty of ‘kill time’ for the spray to kill the bacteria.
Places like seals can get caked in food remnants. Ensure the seals of fridges are cleaned regularly. It’s quick to do with an antibacterial wipe to keep germs at bay but it should also be thoroughly cleaned with spray and soap and water.
The Best Cleaning Products for Cleaning
For a commercial kitchen, it is best to use certified products to ensure you are killing 99.99% of bacteria.
Commercial cleaners are associated with harsh chemicals that are so bad for your lungs that you cough when using them because they’re so strong. This doesn’t have to be the case. There are plenty of commercial cleaners that don’t use toxic chemicals and are sustainable.
Not only are sustainable cleaning products better for the health of staff who are regularly cleaning, but they can last longer, which makes them better value for money.
By choosing sustainable products, such as Taste For Hygiene’s, you can also show consumers you are a sustainable business which attracts more customers because 45% of gen z stopped purchasing from a brand because of ethical or sustainability concerns.
Check the products you use are biodegradable or recyclable. Check for any artificial fragrances, chlorine or phosphates.
Should you Hire a Cleaning Company?
Kitchens are a busy place with chefs working long hours and doing many things at once. It can be easy to struggle with the cleaning of your kitchen when there are so many other things to do.
Hiring a cleaning company to do the cleaning for you can actually save you money. By ensuring your business is always audit ready, you won’t be worried about fines from authorities, complaints from customers, or staff catching infections and costing money in sickness absence.
When consumers see evidence of on-going cleaning, they are more likely to trust an establishment. In a survey 61% said seeing cleaning and hygiene operatives made them feel safety was taken seriously.
Taste For Hygiene Healthy Space Badge
Another way to show your dedication to hygiene is by getting your free Taste For Hygiene Healthy Space Badge.
By signing up to Taste For Hygiene you can display this badge in your window to show your customers their wellbeing is important to you.
Cleanliness is the lynchpin to a successful food business. By putting procedures in place, training staff, and a consistent cleaning schedule, your business should always be audit ready.