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New FSA Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme launchCraven District, our local council, is one of the many local authorities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland supporting the Food Standards Agency’s new Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) and we went along to the launch event last week in Skipton.

Around 50 Skipton food businesses which had been awarded 5 stars were invited to the event to collect their certificates, and we were pleased to see several of our favourite eateries present including The Aagrah, Robert Walker Artisan Bakery, and Bella Napoli in Crosshills to name just a few. We were also pleased to hear that Utopia, the on-site restaurant at Broughton Hall, has also acheived a maximum score of 5.

Just to give a brief overview, FHRS is a scheme whereby premises preparing or serving food are inspected by a local authority food safety officer and given a hygiene rating based on the results of that visit.

Inspections are based around:

  • how hygienically the food is handled – how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored
  • the condition of the structure of the buildings – the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities
  • how the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe

The rating does not reflect the quality of food or the standard of service provided to customers.

What type of businesses are included in the scheme?

Most food businesses that supply food directly to the consumer are included in the scheme including restaurants, shops, cafes, takeaways, delicatessens, care homes, hotels and pubs.

Ratings range from 0 (urgent improvement necessary) to 5 (very good) and reflect how closely that premises is meeting the requirements of food hygiene law. Following a visit from an assessor, the business will be issued with a certificate and window sticker showing their rating, which they are encouraged to display in a prominent position.

The FSA scheme is not a new phenomenon, 102 local authorities, including neighbouring Bradford Council, already participate in a similar scheme called ‘Scores on the Doors’. This is now being phased out in favour of the national FSA scheme. Businesses in Scotland have a slightly different scheme called the Food Hygiene Information Scheme. This is also run in partnership with the FSA, but rather than a rating of 0 to 5, premises are given a ‘Pass’ or ‘Improvement Required.’

How to view the ratings online

As a training company specialising in Food Safety, we are naturally delighted that restaurants, cafes, takeaways, pubs, hotels and even some supermarkets and food retailers are embracing the scheme.  Consumers want to be sure that the food they buy is safe to eat and has been stored and prepared in an appropriate manner. In order to find out how a local business scores in the hygiene stakes, people can visit the FSA ratings website, where the results are loaded onto a database.

Obviously it is in an outlet’s interests to achieve a rating of 4 or 5, since consumers will view their business in a more favourable manner than a business with a lower score. However the scheme is voluntary at present and food businesses do not have to display their rating at the premises. They will be available to view online so it’s possible that only those businesses that are confident in their approach to food safety will get involved.

However any scheme that allows the public greater choice in their selection of venue based on the safety of the food served gets the thumbs up from us.

If you would like to ensure that your company is well prepared for an inspection, we offer a wide variety of food safety and hygiene courses, from level 2 to Advanced (level 4). Click here for more details. The minimum accepted level of training for those preparing or serving food to the public is the Level 2 Food Hygiene, which is available online from just £15 per person.

For more information and downloads relating to the scheme from Craven District Council click here

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