Scores On The Doors Or Food For Thought?

The Food Standards Agency ratings …

Posted on: 22/04/2014   By: Alan Dawson

People of a certain age will remember the Generation Game which reached a peak of 25 million viewers in the 1970s. In the show, Larry Grayson would ask ”what are the scores on the doors?” and his lovely assistant, Isla St. Clair, would reply with ”the names in the frames say” …

food standards - Copy

All food establishments should be aiming for a five, but what’s the minimum score you would want to see if you were going to eat there?

Ah those were the days, weren’t they? television at its best. As mentioned earlier, that was the 70’s, but today, if you google ‘scores on the doors’ you will find you are directed to the Official Food Hygiene Ratings.

So, what are the Official Food Hygiene Ratings and, should I be that bothered? The Food Standards Agency, in partnership with local authorities, has rolled out the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Food Hygiene Information scheme in Scotland.

The schemes help consumers choose where to eat out, or shop for food, by giving them information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, cafés, takeaways, hotels and food shops. And yes, youshould be bothered!

“The schemes encourage businesses to improve hygiene standards. The overarching aim is to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness!”

Each local authority can choose whether it wants to take part or not, but numbers are increasing all the time. The scheme is now running in all areas of Wales and in 96% of England and Northern Ireland.

In fact, all businesses in Wales that serve or supply food are now required to display their hygiene rating at their premises under the Food Hygiene Rating (Wales) Act which came into force on the 28th November 2013.

The food safety officer inspecting a business checks how well the business is meeting the law by looking at:

  • How hygienically the food is handled, how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored.
  • The condition of the structure of the buildings; The cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities.
  • How the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe.

At the end of the inspection, the business is given one of the six ratings. The top rating of ‘5’ means that the business was found to have ‘very good’ hygiene standards. Any business should be able to reach this top rating.

The food safety officer will explain to the person who owns or manages the business what improvements are needed and how they can achieve the top rating of ‘5’. The local authority will check that these improvements are made.

The Food Hygiene Rating System has been designed to make sure that the ratings given to businesses are fair. The scheme works by issuing a food business with a score of between 0 to 5 after it has had a food hygiene inspection.

The scores are classified as:

  1. Urgent improvement necessary
  2. Major improvement necessary
  3. Improvement necessary
  4. Generally satisfactory
  5. Good
  6. Very good

Now, if all premises in the UK that serve or supply food were required to display their rating, what rating would you find acceptable before you would eat there or purchase food?

If you want to check out your favourite café, coffee bar, restaurant food retailer or school in Milton Keynes, then click here to find out more. You will be surprised at what you find!

The scheme includes businesses supplying food directly to the final consumer. Examples of these include:

  • Restaurants
  • Pubs
  • Cafes
  • Takeaways
  • Sandwich shops
  • Hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfasts
  • Supermarkets
  • Schools and nurseries
  • Residential care homes and nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • Wholesalers and cash and carry premises selling by retail
  • Shops and stalls selling food by retail
  • Armed forces bases and police stations
  • Crown establishments such as prisons

In fairness sometimes the Food Standards Agency website takes times to update, so some businesses may have made improvements and are just waiting for a re-assessment or just haven’t been assessed yet.

Until next time

ALAN DAWSON