BUSINESSES ARE being encouraged by the Food Standards Agency to make the most of their food hygiene rating to help drive trade.
Customers are becoming increasingly aware of the food hygiene schemes and are actively looking for rating stickers when choosing where to eat out, FSA research shows.
More food businesses are now displaying their hygiene rating stickers and a third of them say that this has resulted in greater customer confidence, better reputation among customers and, most importantly, more customers.
The FSA ‘How to’ guide
Businesses with a rating in the top half of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme scale (3, 4, or 5), and those with a Pass under the Food Hygiene Information Scheme that runs in Scotland, are being encouraged to display their rating sticker or Pass certificate in a place where customers can easily see it, for example, in a window or on the door. This immediately reassures customers about the business’s hygiene standards.
To help food businesses get the most out of their rating, the FSA has produced an online ‘How to’ guide. This gives some ideas on how to promote hygiene standards and help increase the number of customers who come through the door or order online, for example, including the food hygiene rating or Pass on menus and advertising. The guide can be accessed at: www.food.gov.uk/business-toolkit-fhrs
Catriona Stewart, head of the FSA’s food hygiene ratings team, said: “Businesses displaying their ratings are finding this is having a positive impact. People are increasingly looking for the stickers when they are out and we want more businesses to benefit in this way, and our new toolkit can help them make the most of their ratings.
“The scheme also gives customers the confidence that they are choosing to eat at premises where food hygiene is being taken seriously.”
The food hygiene schemes
The schemes are run by participating local authorities in partnership with the FSA. Food businesses are inspected by a local authority food safety officer.
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme operates in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. In Wales the display of a rating sticker at food outlets will become a mandatory requirement from November 2013. Ratings range from 0 to 5. The top rating is ‘5’ – this means hygiene standards are very good. The bottom is ‘0’ – this means urgent improvement is required. For more information visit: food.gov.uk/ratings
Research by the FSA indicates that the majority of consumers find a rating of 3 and above acceptable. A 3 means that standards are ‘generally satisfactory’ and 4 means they are ‘good’ but these businesses are still a step or two away from the top rating and should continue to try to improve.
The Food Hygiene Information Scheme operates in Scotland. A ‘Pass’ indicates that the business broadly met the legal requirements, which include the conditions found and the management procedures in place for providing safe food. Where a business has failed to meet these requirements it is issued with an ‘Improvement Required’ certificate. For more information visit: food.gov.uk/scotland