Local Councils Charging Food Outlets For Hygiene Reinspection Receiving a low food hygiene rating can cost your business in more ways than you think. Firstly the score is recorded online; so if you’ve gone from a 4 or 5 to a 0 or 1, customers new and old might be looking to go elsewhere. After a drop in rating you then need to fix the issues which no doubt will cost you a lot of money! Hiring more staff to help improve the cleanliness of your kitchen? Money. Updating your food safety paperwork? Money. Buying new fridges, freezers, ovens, microwaves, extractor fans, fire extinguishers? Money. And now it appears that after you’ve spent an arm and a leg getting your business back up to scratch, you’ll have to spend money to request an EHO revisit! Ouch!
Each local council is able to set their fee, within reason. For example, Coventry council set the fee at £190 calculated from the average time taken to complete a food hygiene visit taking around 4 hours. The cost takes into consideration the inspection, travel and administration.
Head of the FSA’s food hygiene rating team Angela Towers explained that the decision for local authorities to charge for requested re-inspections was up to them.
“These powers allow for fees on a cost recovery basis only and it is for each local authority to calculate their own costs. The introduction of fees for inspections can help streamline the process for businesses, but local authorities must ensure that fees only apply to re-inspections requested by a venue and not routine inspections. Venues on the receiving end of a low hygiene rating can take positive steps to address any problems and often find themselves under completely new management with new systems in place.”
Annabel Kyle, Food Safety Consultancy Manager for STS comments
“I think it’s fair to say that a decent number of local authorities will now be charging for some of their food safety services but you would have to go on each council’s website to see who is charging for what as it will vary on a council-by-council basis. “It’s worth noting that I’m not aware of any councils currently charging a business for their routine inspections, only for re-inspections and additional advice, etc. I don’t believe there’s any legal provision for them to charge for food business registration or routine inspections.”
The number of re-inspections could be set to increase if new legislation is brought in this year. Currently, businesses in England do not have to publicly display their score within their premises. This therefore leads to businesses with 4 or 5 star ratings proudly displaying them whilst businesses with 0 or 1 are able to hide their scores. however this could change if the display of food hygiene ratings became mandatory across the whole of the United Kingdom, not just Wales or Northern Ireland.
So why let it get to this point in your business? Why not proudly show off your 5 star rating, rather than sheepishly hide the big fat 0 you’ve just received. Have our trained STS experts come and audit your business before the official FSA visit. It could save you money and reputation within the industry.