Here we look at new revisions to the Food Hygiene Ratings system – also known as Scores on the Doors – as well as some easy steps to help achieve a 5 Star result.
What is Scores on the Doors?
The Scores on the Doors system is the now widely-recognised way for food service establishments to demonstrate their levels of food hygiene, following inspection by the Food Standards Agency. These inspections are mandatory and result in a rating out of 5 Stars.
The Food Standards Agency are currently finalising their submission to the Government to recommend that the ratings system in England is aligned to the Welsh and Scottish requirement for food hygiene ratings to be publicly displayed.
As one of the leading UK providers of online food hygiene courses, we keep our training content up to date to ensure that it meets the needs of staff and employers within the fields of Food Manufacturing, Catering and Retail.
Here is the latest information received from the FSA Food Hygiene Ratings Team:
“Introducing mandatory display of food hygiene ratings at food outlets in Wales has built significantly on the positive impact of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and we are pleased that legislation requiring mandatory display in Northern Ireland will come into force in October this year, which will require food businesses there to do the same.
The FSA favours extending mandatory display of ratings at food outlets to England. We consider that this will be better for consumers and for those businesses that achieve good standards and will be an added incentive to those businesses with poorer standards to improve.
We have built a strong case for this using evidence from Wales. We are now exploring how a similar statutory scheme could be delivered viably in England. We envisage having proposals to present to Government for consideration before the end of the year”.
At present, we find that food organisations in England are happy to display ratings of four or five, but few would voluntarily display low scores. The public however have now become familiar with the food hygiene ratings and are very much aware that if they are not displayed they would assume a low rating and look for an alternative place to eat or purchase food products.
Food hygiene ratings therefore have a very clear link to customer service and profitability, as well as providing a good indication of the safety of food and the risk it could present to customers if the ratings are low.
The good news is that there is plenty of help for all the food sector no matter what size of the organisation. Help can sometimes mean the release of staff to classroom courses, which can be costly and disruptive to the business. At Train4Academy we offer an online solution, with a blended package enabling even the smallest of catering establishments to show a “Five” rating.
One example of easy and low cost training helping to bring a top rating is a cafe I regularly use at Hebdon Bridge. This is an outdoor seasonal cafe where the owner, Margaret, is committed to producing high quality food and where the customer service is second to none. Margaret used our simplified HACCP Tool Kit to help achieve a Level Five rating. Watch the video below to find out what Margaret has to say:
On inspection and audit, part of the criteria determining the final food ratings is the presence of well trained food workers who understand the demands of modern systems and are able to consistently perform to high standards. We offer a range of solutions including online courses accredited by major awarding bodies and an online compliance system allowing the allocation and tracking of courses, data storage facilities for your major documentation and verification systems to prove compliance to the inspectorate.
The success of our business has allowed us to make a generous offer which will continue until the end of the year. The offers are free of charge; all we would ask is to leave a few details so that we can contact you to get some feedback on how you found them.
Firstly, the following link is a check list of the indicators are likely to look for when calculating food hygiene ratings.
Check list of key factors relating to Scores on the Doors and UK food rating systems:
|Areas of importance||Performance indicators which will be used by auditors||Yes / No||Suggestions from Train4Academy Ltd|
|Staff knowledge||Have Supervisors and managers been trained to a level 3 standard in food safety and the principles of HACCP?||Level 3 food safety and HACCP courses are now on line and can be completed in a few hours. It is essential, even in a small establishment, for supervisors and managers to demonstrate level 3 knowledge|
|Have staff working with high risk foods been trained to level 2 standard in food safety?||All staff working with high risk foods need to demonstrate level 2 knowledge. Staff can undergo level 2 on line training without the need to complete level 1 training first.|
|Have staff who work with low risk foods been trained to level 1 in food safety?||This applies to waiters or handlers of packaged food who do not come into contact with the product. Part time or temporary staff are not excluded.|
|Have all staff been trained to recognise the risks associated with allergens?||This has become increasingly important in the past few years when the onus has been placed on the organisation to take responsibility and offer clear advice about this. There have also been a number of serious prosecutions.|
|Is there a recognised training programme covering any other areas that could cause a risk to food; for example cleaning and maintenance operations?||There are many areas of risk in a food environment. Train4academy can offer a licenced arrangement which can be a very cost effective way of giving all staff access to a library of food safety courses and other key topics.|
|Food Safety documented management systems||Is there a documented food safety management system reflecting HACCP principles?||Our HACCP tool kit with examples and downloadable documents makes the creation of a food management system relevant and simple. This is ideal for small and medium sized businesses|
|Does the system regularly document ongoing procedures such as the timed checking of refrigeration units?||Systems have to be used and kept up to date. A common barrier to achieving a high score is that the management system is left on the shelf and has little relevance to what is actually going on. Your HACCP plan must be a live document.|
|Is the system understood by all staff and do they have the opportunity to contribute their ideas?||Creating a culture where all staff value and contribute to food safety really does make the system work|
|Is there a documented regular review of the systems||One of the things the inspectorate will look for|
|How hygienically is the food handled?||Is there close supervision of staff to ensure that training and management systems operate in practice to ensure food is hygienically and safely managed?||All too often we see staff brushing their hair, blowing their nose, eating their own food in a food preparation area. All these activities can endanger food and put ratings at risk. Supervisors need to ensure that on a day to day basis good practice is followed. Ensuring for example that all staff follow hand washing routines is a major factor in food safety|
|Can you demonstrate this to the inspectorate?|
|Condition of the establishment||Is the structure of the establishment conducive to effective food hygiene and food safety?||Deterioration of preparation surfaces, walls, floors etc. work against food safety and will affect ratings.|
|Do the facilities conform to legal requirements?||This can become complicated but inspectors will take action if they don’t. If you are unsure seek external advice, or contact us to talk to one of our consultants.|
|Is there a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule?||Dirty kitchens, toilets, eating areas really demonstrate a lack of care not only to the inspectorate but also to customers. You also need to demonstrate to inspectors that schedules are documented and followed|
|General||Have you implemented the recommendations from your last inspection or audit?||An obvious point but one that is often missed.|
The Food Law Code of Practice (England), issued April 2014, gives detail on factors that enforcement authorities should take into account when applying rating systems. The code of practice is a lengthy document that takes into account the type of food premises and the degree of risk to customers.
Food Hygiene Checklist
At Train4Academy we have a substantial customer base and regularly talk to customers in the catering sector about what they regard as important to achieve a high standard of food hygiene and food safety to achieve a top rating. Based upon this and the recommendations of the Food Standards Agency, the above table is a check list of some of the key factors we have identified.
Secondly, we are offering free of charge (usually £49) until the end of 2016, the HACCP tool kit complete with downloadable forms to use as part of your HACCP system. This product is approved by the CPD certification service and can be used, along with any courses purchased, as part of your staff’s CPD record.
To access these offers call us on 01482 861040