The “Hygiene Numbers” that impact your bottom-line

The “Hygiene Numbers” that impact your bottom-line.

Consumers need choice. When consumers are informed, the decision-making process becomes more transparent and easier. The food hygiene rating scheme (FHRS) started in the UK in 2010. The objective was simple – increase consumers’ hygiene awareness, increase compliance pressure on businesses and reduce food borne illnesses. By visibly displaying hygiene ratings, consumers can make a more informed decision on where to eat based on how hygienic the food business is.

This scheme has been very successful and mature. It has met some of its objectives. 65% of consumers aware of the FHRS score use this information to decide where to purchase food or drink. Ratings of 3 and 4 are viewed as the lowest acceptable food hygiene rating. For businesses with ratings of 2 and below, this is bad for business. 82% would turn away from food business with ratings lower than the rating they consider acceptable.

Why are hygiene ratings important?

Food business operators (FBO) take their brand reputation very seriously. The hygiene status gives consumers a good insight into how seriously the food business takes food safety and hygiene. Three components that are examined to provide the ratings are the food hygiene practices, structure of building and cleanliness and confidence in the management team. When assessed by a competent authority, the score provides a good reflection of how hygienic and safe a food business is.

Food businesses do not want to associate with low ratings due to adverse consumer perception. Not displaying your hygiene ratings is also associated with “poor hygiene standards” says 62% of respondents. In Wales and Northern Ireland, it is mandatory to display your hygiene ratings while in England it is voluntary.

Food Standards Agency’s view on mandatory display

Recent news from the Food Standard Agency (FSA) strongly suggests that the FSA is pushing for mandatory display of hygiene ratings scores in England. Anticipating this change and prioritizing hygiene is now very important for food businesses with lower hygiene ratings.

It is expected that COVID -19 will increase hygiene awareness. Food hygiene rating scores will be more important and become a major factor influencing traffic into your business, boosting sales and the bottom-line.

How can I improve my hygiene ratings?

For food businesses to grow, they need customers coming through the doors and returning again. Any factor that hinders the return patronage is bad for business growth. Hygiene will be increasingly seen as a competitive advantage.

Broadly, there are 3 key areas to boost your hygiene ratings

Firstly, understand the components that make up the hygiene ratings and ensure your food safety system covers all three components of the hygiene score. Your food safety system should be well maintained with records being up to date and easily accessible.

Secondly, conduct regular cleaning and deep cleaning. This is the first thing customers and the food inspectors will see. First impressions count! If the front of house is untidy, smelly and dirty, the back of house and other elements of food hygiene are likely be the same.

Thirdly, ensure your staff is trained. If they are not trained, there are unlikely to follow the requirements. Training reinforces the importance of the checks.

Safeintel digital solution

Safeintel food safety compliance software has been designed by UK food safety experts in collaboration with business owners to provide a complete package to boost and maintain your hygiene ratings. It is tested and trusted to manage all your HACCP compliance. Our digital food safety software has been designed in line with Safer Food Better Business (SFBB). It captures and prompts the completion of required regulatory checks keeping you compliant and boosting your hygiene ratings. Sign up now for a free trial.

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