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Food Safety Training, Auditing & Management
Food Safety Training, Auditing & Management

How does the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) work?

We will cover;

  • What the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme  is
  • What happens during an Environmental Health Officer’s inspection
  • What are the factors taken into consideration during an EHO inspection
  • What is the impact on the score/grade issued

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) provides an indication of the standards of food hygiene in food businesses providing food directly to consumers such as restaurants, pubs, café, takeaways, and hotels, as well as supermarkets and other food shops. It takes the results of official food hygiene inspections and the resultant score forms the basis for the hygiene stars. This star rating, can be accessed by any potential customers in minutes from the Food Standards Agency Website.

What to expect from an EHO during an inspection.

Environmental Health Officers (EHO's) follow food safety code of practice when conducting inspections. They will be assessing  that your premises (and prep kitchen if you have one) are suitable for hygienic food production. They will consider your food safety management system & the inspection will produce a rating which is dependent on food handling practices & procedures. How the grade is calculated is covered later on here.

  • The EHO must show you identification before they start their inspection. There have been instances of people entering businesses impersonating hygiene inspectors.
  • The EHO will provide feedback and guidance - i.e. draw your attention to  hazards and suggest corrective action. Accompany the EHO during their inspection if possible to ensure you are aware of any issues raised.
  • The EHO will clearly identify differences between your legal requirements and recommended good practice. Such differences may not affect your final grade.
  • Should remedial action be required, the EHO will provide an initial written note & follow up with a detailed list of issues, required actions & a timeline of when action need to be taken
  • Should food law have been breached, which law will be identified
  • Unless there’s an immediate risk to public health, in which case you will be closed, you will be given a reasonable time to comply to with stated improvements. This will usually be a minimum of two weeks.
  • There is an appeals procedure should you be unhappy with the result & this will be explained by the EHO

What are the inspectors checking for (main points, this list is not exhaustive):

  • A recorded, (dated, signed & completed) food safety management system. The system that the local authorities prefer food businesses to use is the Safer Food Better Business pack
  • Hand washing facilities including hygienic means for drying hands, which is best done with disposable paper towel. Hand washing sinks should be separate from other sinks.
  • Clean & separate food preparation and equipment washing sink
  • An effective method of measuring temperatures ( calibrated insertion probe thermometer ) Infra- red thermometers only measure surface temperature
  • Clean & tidy work surfaces & workspace constructed from suitable materials which are easily cleaned
  • Absence of access where pests may enter the building (maintenance)
  • Adequate ventilation without compromising food safety e.g screen on an open door
  • Refrigeration for storing high-risk products which is maintained & the temperatures monitored & recorded
  • Appropriate cleaning equipment, kept separate from all foodstuffs
  • An effective & hygienic waste disposal process
  • Hot and cold water. The provision of hot water is required for any food premises & without out you cannot trade. Cold of drinking quality water should be available.
  • Good personal hygiene and practices from all staff
  • Protective clothing such as aprons, hats, gloves are worn & clean & suitable. Hats & gloves are not compulsory
  • Cross contamination procedures i.e. raw and cooked foods separately stored & prepared
  • Records of hygiene training for all staff (level 2 for food handlers)

The FHRS ratings are based on three areas critical to food safety assessed at inspection:

  • Hygienic handling of food (hygiene procedures)
  • Cleanliness and condition of facilities (structure)
  • Confidence in managemen

Food Hygiene rating scoring

The potential hazards will be assessed first & there are three factors determine the potential hazard depending on whether there is

  • Preparation of high risk food
  • Type of food & methods of handling
  • The number of customers of the business

Level of compliance

Food hygiene and safety procedures will be graded for practices and procedures, temperature control structure of the building, cleanliness, layout, condition, lighting &ventilation, staff facilities & more. The lower the score, the better.

Confidence in Management

This section of the scoring will assess whether a business’s food safety management system is effective in controlling risks & hazards with appropriate controls & record keeping. The system should be  well understood by all staff concerned. Kitchen staff will be asked questions on a visit so it is important they understand the controls.

The confidence in management score is not just concerned with paperwork & records of procedures and temperatures etc. The  factors that will affect the grading include:

  • The willingness of the establishment, to act on previous advice and enforcement,
  • The attitude & priority given to hygiene and food safety
  • Appropriate knowledge, including HACCP and relevant level of food safety training
  • Effective food safety procedures

For small businesses, it may be enough that the business has in place, good hygiene practices and has the prerequisites for  basic food safety  such as cleaning schedule, staff training, pest control etc).

For assistance with these, please contact us.

Food hygiene inspection frequencies

Frequency of inspection is largely determined by the result of the previous inspection and subsequent grade.

  • For 5 star rated businesses an inspection will be likely only at 3 yearly intervals
  • For 4 star this will be at least every 2 years
  • For 3 star expect a visit around 18 month intervals
  • For 2 stars this will be at least 12 months
  • For 0 or 1 stars a visit will be scheduled at least every 6 months & is likely to be more frequent depending on progress & risks

The full Food Law Codes of Practice 2017, along with Food Safety Acts, EU regulations are available on the FSA website.

Cowan Catering Management specialises in providing assistance to businesses with the implementation of Food Safety Law.

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