The results of the exclusive Which? analysis of Food Standards Agency (FSA) data doesn’t make for particularly pleasant reading, especially if your business is based in Birmingham or Hyndburn, Lancashire. That’s down to the fact these two areas have been found to have the worst food hygiene scores in the UK by consumer champion Which?.
According to Which?, just two in five of Hyndburn’s high and medium-risk food businesses – from small independent cafes to multi-location chain restaurants – met food hygiene standards. To put this into context, 98 per cent of eateries in the North Yorkshire town of Harrogate did meet food hygiene standards.
With Camden, Croydon and the Isles of Scilly completing the list of the worst five areas for food hygiene, it is a potentially huge amount of businesses that could be affected. This then impacts an even greater number of customers, who will likely start to vote with their feet and find more hygienic options elsewhere, leaving companies suffering from lost revenue. This further highlights the importance that businesses should place on food safety.
How important is food safety?
The vast majority of businesses that serve food will understand the vital importance of ensuring they are compliant with food safety regulations. However, many either do not recognise its significance or choose not to tackle it, for a variety of reasons. This leads to hygiene problems in the kitchen, which can then then result in legal problems in the office when the environmental health officers (EHOs) are not satisfied with what they see.
When your business receives one of these visits, the EHOs will examine how hygienically the food is handled, including how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored. The EHOs will also take into account the condition of the structure of the buildings, such as its cleanliness, layout, ventilation, lighting and pest control. These are the sorts of issues that are within the control of your business, which means that the EHOs will not look sympathetically on any unresolved problems.
When your business receives one of these visits, the EHOs will look at a range of aspects relating to how you handle food, how you prepare food, the condition of the structure of your food premises and your food safety management system and documentation. These are the sorts of issues that are within the control of your business, which means that the EHOs will not look sympathetically on any unresolved problems.
If you’re expecting your local authority to send its officers to your premises, and you are unsure about your local authorities expectations, then we’d recommend you carry out a risk assessment on your business to establish any weak points that could potentially be a reason to award you a low food hygiene rating. You then have the opportunity to put things right and reduce the possibility of having to close the business down for a period or suffer another form of penalty.
For customers, food hygiene is often one of the most important factors they consider when deciding where to eat. This makes it one of the key areas to focus on in order to attract more repeat business. After all, people will be more likely to return when they know their food is being prepared to a high standard.
There are numerous factors in play when potential customers are choosing where to eat. Food hygiene is often one of the most important factors, and therefore it should be one of the key areas to focus on in order to attract repeat business. After all, people will be more likely to return when they know their food is being prepared to a high standard.
In addition, the number of restaurants failing has gone up by 20 per cent in the last year, according to law firm Moore Stephens. There are enough challenges with keeping your restaurant open without adding the impact of poor hygiene ratings to this. Ensuring your food hygiene processes are up to scratch, means you can build a brand that encourages repeat custom.
We are here to help businesses of all sizes with your compliance including diaries, independent audits, staff training and ultimately improving ratings – get in touch with us today to see how we can help.