Improve your food hygiene rating As a food business owner, your food hygiene rating is no doubt something you take seriously. A rating of 5 is something all food businesses should aim for. But if you happen to fall short of the mark, there are many ways to improve your food hygiene rating.
When an EHO visits your premises to carry out their inspection and ultimately rate your premises, there are three different elements they will assess:
Their confidence in your management The structutal condition of your premises Your premises hygiene standards
Many people believe that the cleanliness of a food business is the only element that contributes towards food hygiene ratings. However, that is simply not the case. All three elements mentioned above contribute to your food hygiene rating.
Confidence In Management
Confidence in management isn’t simply how competent your manager is. It includes other areas such as your documented HACCP food safety management systems (FSMS), record keeping and the general approach to safety.
Your food safety management system needs to be accurate and fully documented. It should include:
Your kitchen processes Any hazards identified Mitigating controls you have in place Critical control points Suitable record keeping
More information on what needs to be included in your HACCP based FSMS
can be found here .
Your EHO will also assess how well trained your staff are. It’s a legal requirement that food handlers are
Level 2 Food Safety qualified. However, EHO’s aren’t simply looking for certificates. They want to see your team demonstrate their understanding of food safety and the controls you have in place.
We also advise that food businesses adopt a due-diligent approach to food safety. This shows EHOs you are doing everything in your power to maintain and improve your food hygiene rating. If your EHO sees that your activities (however big or small) are backed up by thorough record keeping you should score well in this section.
The main factor here is the cleanliness of your premises. This includes surfaces, walls, floors, ceilings and doors to name a few. All need to be of a good standard and appropriately safe and clean. Additionally, you need to ensure your equipment is of suitable and standard. This can be achieved through servicing, maintenance and record keeping.
Even though cleaning is an obvious food safety element, you’d be surprised to hear that many people do get it wrong. It’s also the easiest for an EHO to identify if insufficient. One way of ensuring high levels of cleanliness is to implement accurate cleaning schedules. Cleaning schedules identify cleaning tasks, frequency, equipment and chemicals needed. It’s also crucial that the person carrying out the cleaning signs off the schedule to say they have sufficiently carried out the cleaning tasks. This will then need to be verified by a manager.
It’s recommended that you have the below as a minimum to clean your premises:
Detergents Sanitisers Antibacterial soap Heavier cleaning chemicals e.g degreaser Cloths, mops and buckets
It’s also important to check that your products conform to BS EN 1276 or BS EN 13697 as your EHO will look for this.
We also advise that you carry out a two stage cleaning technique:
Clean surfaces down with detergent/sanitiser to remove food debris Clean down again with sanitiser, allowing the product to remain on the surface for the correct amount of time to ensure that bacteria are killed
Get this right and the EHO will likely score your business well and you will be on your way to improving your food hygiene rating.
Hygiene standards take into account cross contamination control, personal hygiene and temperature control to name a few.
Basic cross contamination controls can include:
Ensuring raw meats/fish are stored below ready to eat food Storing raw meats/fish separately from ready to eat foods Using colour coded chopping boards The correct use of sanitisers
However since the legislation on allergenic ingredients changes, you need to take steps to avoid contaminating foods and equipment with any of the 14 known allergens. This extends to storage of allergenic ingredients, handling procedures during preparation and cooking as well as final service. Remember – allergen advice needs to be available to all and staff must not guess at the content of foods!
Maintaining temperature control of foods during storage, cooking/reheating, cooling and service is vitally important. Certain temperature limits are better known than others, e.g. 8°C for fridges and 75°C for 30 seconds for cooked foods. However, unusual cooking methods are becoming increasingly popular these days. If you’re using an unusual cooking technique then you need to demonstrate you know what you’re doing when it comes to temperature targets and specialist equipment. EHO’s are also looking at food cooling with increased detail therefore it’s essential you cool your food as safely and quickly as possible.
Personal hygiene is an important factor in maintaining high food safety standards. One of the simple things food handlers often get wrong and EHO’s look out for is hand washing. You need to ensure the correct hand washing procedure should be part of your induction training. Your basins also need to have running hot and cold water whilst being stocked with antibacterial soap and paper towels. Elbow taps are ideal but if not achievable, staff should turn taps off with paper towels.
A Final Word on Pests
Finally, it’s critical to make sure your premises is pest free. A basic control is ensuring that they cannot get in in the first place but keeping your kitchen clean won’t just satisfy your EHO – it means that pests have nothing to eat. It’s good practice to appoint a recognised pest controller to monitor conditions in your kitchen and stores; they should visit about 8 times a year and be available for emergency call out visits if any unwelcome intruders are spotted.
By following our advice above you should be able to improve your food hygiene rating (whilst keeping your EHO happy at the same time!). It can be a stressful time trying to improve your food hygiene rating, especially with the added pressure of an EHO visit. That’s why we’re here to help. Our team of food safety consultants are here to help your improve your food hygiene rating as well as general food safety standards. Whether this is through organised audits, advice and support or help with your HACCP development. For more information, get in touch with our team on 08450 50 40 60 or fill in the form to the right and we’ll be in touch!