According to the World Health Organisation, one in ten people globally get ill from eating contaminated food. In Europe alone, that’s more than 23 million people each year!
Hospitality is obviously not the only actor to blame. But as the world opens up post-covid, ensuring food safety standards are met and easily recorded is a priority for all restaurants, bars, cafes, and caterers.
Beyond the health risks for individuals, there are business risks associated with not following food hygiene legal requirements. Poor ratings from an EHO inspection could result in you having to stop trading until issues are resolved.
And when your score is quite literally on the door, having a bad hygiene rating could result in losing customers. Especially in today’s world, with hygiene concerns at an all time high.
A survey by YouGov found that over half of consumers are more conscious of food safety and hygiene at food outlets since the pandemic began. And 65% said they would avoid eating at a place if they were not confident in the food safety standards of the premises.
Food hygiene is more important than ever, so you need a top score to protect the reputation you’ve built.
With more Covid checks and precautions to manage, simplifying and feeling secure of food safety processes is key.
The 1990 Food Safety Act provides the framework for all food legislation in England, Wales and Scotland.
The law requires all food businesses to have a documented food safety management system.
An Environmental Health Officer (EHO) from your local authority will inspect your premises to ensure you’re complying with this law. And award you accordingly with a food hygiene score.
The rating—chosen on a scale of 0 to 5—is a snapshot of your venue’s food safety. It takes into account everything from cleanliness to food handling to how ingredients are stored and prepared.
Displaying your rating is compulsory in Wales and Northern Ireland, and it’s only a matter of time before England joins them. JustEat have already listed the rating for all their restaurants in the app.
Here are some simple steps you can follow to ensure your business achieves “scores on the doors” greatness:
It might seem obvious, but regular and thorough cleaning before and during handling food is vital:
Your food storage system should keep raw foods and ready-to-eat foods completely separate:
Food needs to be cooked at 70°C for it to be safe for consumption, and certain foods require special attention:
To prevent food poisoning, ensure food is stored effectively:
Without proper staff training and a positive food safety culture, even the most efficient food safety program won’t work. Training should include:
Even if you carry out all of the above steps, you won’t receive top marks unless you maintain records (for at least 12 months). You need to document:
Your options are to use a printed paper diary or a digital alternative (like Trail 😉).
UK law requires all food businesses to have a documented food safety management system.
It’s basically a checklist that business owners can download with all the food hygiene checks they need to do each day.
Helping food businesses:
SFBB is for a broad range of businesses, including caterers, retailers, childminders, residential care homes, and more.
The SFBB for caterers pack is for restaurants, cafes and bars that are registered with the local authority as a food business.
N.B. If you haven’t already, you need to register your business with the environmental health team at your local council a month before you start operating.
1. Download and print the SFBB pack.
2. Read through the pack and work your way through the “safe methods” sheets. There’s also a diary for you to print out and fill in every day (more on this below).
3. An EHO will then review these records and award you accordingly with a hygiene rating.
The safer food better business pack comes in two parts:
The “safe method” fact sheets explain the main food safety risks and how to manage them.
They are divided into the following sections:
Each section guides you through the key areas of food safety (‘safety points’), why it’s important, and there’s a space for you to describe how your business manages the risk.
Some safe methods have a ‘check it’ section, reminding you to check whether your method has worked. It also explains how to record problems, which brings us onto the diary section.
You need to fill in the diary every day, noting anything different that happens, including anything that goes wrong.
The diary includes:
The manager on site needs to sign the diary every day to confirm the opening and closing checks, cleaning and safe methods have been carried out.
If something does go wrong, describe what happened and what you did to fix it. EHOs will be looking for examples of this when they visit your business as part of a food safety inspection.
Your food hygiene checks don’t need to be kept in an SFBB diary/pack to meet EHO requirements.
Nowadays, there are quicker, simpler digital solutions that make it easier for your team to run through their daily checks (hey, we know just the app 😉).
Trail combines the “how to” elements of the safe methods and the actions of the diary into one simple EHO approved app.
The Trail app works on any smartphone or tablet. Smart digital checklists automatically tell you what to do and when to do it for total confidence in your food safety management.
Each task includes bite-sized guidance on how to complete it correctly—no trawling through endless pages of Safer Methods for what to do.
Trail keeps a secure digital record of the daily checks—no loose bits of paper and binders. EHOs can locate everything quickly and easily to help you get that all important 5.
In the UK, food hygiene training is not a legal requirement, and businesses can operate without a food hygiene certificate.
However, every food business must take responsibility for staff training and supervision when it comes to food safety. And, you will lose marks in your EHO inspection if you can’t provide evidence of training.
You can train your team in-house or externally.
In-house training: materials are developed by the business and can be adapted to reflect company practices. Qualified team members or external trainers deliver training.
External training: organisations and consultants run off-site training courses or offer e-learning courses for hospitality staff. External trainers deliver training.
UK government – offers the following free online food safety courses:
NCASS – triple-accredited food hygiene and catering courses:
CIEH – chartered body for environmental health training courses:
CIEH also offers a range of e-learning courses—over 20 courses in environmental health.
An EHO can turn up at any time, on any day of the week. They don't need to book an appointment.
Which is why you need to comply with health and safety laws at all times.
All the team needs to be prepared for the inspection (not just the managers), so simplify your daily hygiene practices and onboard all team members.
The Health and Safety Executive is carrying out ‘spot checks’ on businesses to ensure they are Covid safe and that the measures are in line with government guidance. They will check your business:
Use this environmental health inspection checklist to inspect your premises and food safety standards before an inspection:
The pandemic has accelerated the importance of food hygiene.
With more Covid checks and safety precautions to manage, but fewer people to drive the action, businesses need to adopt new tools to bridge the gap.
Digital food hygiene checklists can help you do more with less, stay on top of changing hygiene guidelines, and get that all important 5.
Trail keeps a secure digital record of your daily hygiene checks. No loose bits of paper and binders. EHOs can locate everything quickly and easily to help you get top scores on the doors.