Food Hygiene Ratings: All down to paperwork or not?

This past week, the BBC featured a report by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) defending the fact that poor hygiene ratings are not due to paperwork.

Let’s quickly run through some numbers to put this into context.

Based on the latest public attitude survey, 43% believe that food safety is still a main concern when eating out.  60% are aware of the food hygiene ratings.

The NFU Mutual Food Hygiene Ratings Report observed that found that 44% of people would not enter a food establishment if it displayed a rating of 3 or less, and a significant proportion at 38% said they would stop visiting their favourite food service outlet if it had scored 3 or less.

Therefore, food business operators need to maintain a high rating to improve consumer confidence and boost sales.

Paperwork is not the problem

While I am also of the opinion that bad paperwork does not automatically lead to poor ratings, I believe they contribute massively. It’s simple, if you don’t measure it, you don’t prevent, you don’t improve.  Paperwork is fast becoming a thing of the past in this digital age. The emphasis in the BBC report is not on paperwork per se but a lack of food safety systems to protect consumers evidence by poor practices and poor documentation.

Food business owners, should be looking for digital systems that intuitively reminds food handlers of food safety procedures and a means to measure and monitor compliance. Compliance checks not recorded makes it difficult for an environmental health officer (EHO) to be completely assured you are doing the right thing every day.

Tips to improve your ratings

It is only a matter of time for the mandatory display of hygiene ratings in England. This will ensure poorly rated sites continue to improve standards as this becomes a competitive factor. In addition, ratings are increasingly being asked by insurance companies to calculate premiums. Want to be on Just Eat?  a minimum of a 3-hygiene rating is required. If you want to improve your hygiene ratings from zero to hero or you want to maintain your high rating, you need to understand and concentrate on the elements that produce the rating. Food hygiene handling, structure and confidence in management are the three components. Whether you use a paper based or digital system, food business operators need to carefully consider how they translate the food regulations into systems and procedures in an engaging and intuitive way to protect consumers.

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