The Ultimate Hospitality Guide to Managing Food Hygiene

Demystify SFBB, nail your daily checks, ace your next EHO inspection.
Michael Radley
10 min read

Food hygiene in hospitality post-covid

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.

Learn about food safety and hygiene checklists post-lockdown

Part 1

Managing food safety and hygiene

With more Covid checks and precautions to manage, simplifying and feeling secure of food safety processes is key.

What are the current food hygiene standards?

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.

What do hospitality businesses need to do to get a good food hygiene rating?

Here are some simple steps you can follow to ensure your business achieves “scores on the doors” greatness:

1. Clean

It might seem obvious, but regular and thorough cleaning before and during handling food is vital:

  • Maintain a cleaning schedule to make sure routine cleaning jobs take place and the standard of cleaning is consistent.
  • Wash hands before handling food and more often during food preparation.
  • Disinfect all surfaces, equipment, and tools used in food handling and preparation.
  • Sanitise the handwashing sink and ensure you’re stocked up on antibac and blue hand roll.

2. Prevent cross-contamination

Your food storage system should keep raw foods and ready-to-eat foods completely separate:

  • Store food in clean containers to prevent possible contact between raw and cooked foods.
  • Make sure you have a clearly labelled storage system with use-by dates displayed.
  • Use different and separate equipment and utensils such as knives and cutting boards for handling raw foods.

3. Cook food thoroughly

Food needs to be cooked at 70°C for it to be safe for consumption, and certain foods require special attention:

  • For meat and poultry, make sure that their juices are clear, not pink.
  • Reheat cooked food properly.
  • Bring foods like soups and stews to boil.

4. Store food at safe temperatures

To prevent food poisoning, ensure food is stored effectively:

  • Don’t leave cooked food at room temperature for 2+ hours.
  • Refrigerate all cooked and perishable foods (below 5°C).
  • Don’t store food too long, even in the refrigerator.
  • Do not thaw frozen food at room temperature.

6. Train teams

Without proper staff training and a positive food safety culture, even the most efficient food safety program won’t work. Training should include:

  • Food hygiene, personal hygiene, food handling, responsibilities and handwashing practices.
  • Update training in line with any new government guidelines—crucial during the pandemic.

7. Keep records

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:

  • Food safety policies, daily checks, risk assessments and staff training files.

Your options are to use a printed paper diary or a digital alternative (like Trail 😉).

Part 2

What is Safer Food Better Business, and how does it work?

UK law requires all food businesses to have a documented food safety management system.

Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) is a simple system developed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to help businesses in the UK comply with this law.

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:

  • Comply with UK law & FSA food hygiene regulations
  • Prove to EHOs that you prepare food safely
  • Improve food hygiene
  • Keep customers safe
  • Protect the reputation of your business
  • Train staff

Who’s it for?

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.

How does it work?

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.

Part 3

What's included in a safer food better business pack and diary?

The safer food better business pack comes in two parts:

  1. Safe Methods which must be filled in and reviewed every year
  2. The Diary which are tasks to complete every day

Safe Methods

The “safe method” fact sheets explain the main food safety risks and how to manage them.

They are divided into the following sections:

A. Cross-contamination  

  • Personal hygiene
  • Food allergies
  • Food delivery checks
  • Food separation
  • Food labelling
  • Pest control

B. Cleaning

  • Hand washing
  • Cleaning schedule

C. Chilling

  • Cooling down hot food
  • Chilled food storage
  • Defrosting
  • Freezing

D. Cooking  

  • Reheating
  • Hot holding temperatures
  • Menu checks

E. Management

  • Opening and closing checks
  • Training and supervision
  • Stock control
  • Suppliers and contractors
  • Product recall

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.

The Diary

You need to fill in the diary every day, noting anything different that happens, including anything that goes wrong.

The diary includes:

  • Week-to-view diary pages
  • Checks to do every day when you open and close
  • Cleaning schedule
  • 4-weekly review
  • Staff training record
  • Suppliers’ list

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.

Part 4

What are the EHO approved processes for documenting food hygiene?

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 😉).

Introducing Trail

Trail combines the “how to” elements of the safe methods and the actions of the diary into one simple EHO approved app.

Trail guides you through your checklists

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.

Ensure tasks are completed correctly

Each task includes bite-sized guidance on how to complete it correctly—no trawling through endless pages of Safer Methods for what to do.

Get a hygiene rating of 5

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.

Why digital checklists are better for growing hospitality businesses:

  • Do more with less: Automate repetitive checks and give your teams more time to focus on customer experience.
  • Training built in: Digital checklists guide teams through their day, step by step. Videos and guides are attached to tasks, so you know new processes are being followed correctly.
  • Improve remote visibility: Notifications and daily reports highlight issues as they happen. Managers can see what’s happening in their sites, wherever they are, resolving issues quickly with fewer site visits.
  • Communicate change quickly: Communicate changes in policy to teams on the ground in minutes. Everyone knows exactly what needs to be done, how and when to do it.
  • Flag problems: Digital checklists allow you to comment, highlight issues and resolve them directly on the task. Attach photos for all the evidence you need, all in one place.

Learn how digital checklists can help with changing Covid guidelines

Part 5

Food hygiene training

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.

Food hygiene training options

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.

Training resources:

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.

Benefits of completing a food hygiene training programme:

  • Prevent contamination: training ensures staff know how to prevent cross-contamination and so protect customers from getting food poisoning.
  • Reduce food waste: poor hygiene practices (e.g. storing food at the wrong temperature) often leads to food going out of date.
  • Improve efficiency: when staff know how to work hygienically, work activities flow better.
  • Build a positive reputation: good hygiene practices won’t go unnoticed by customers.
  • Receive a good hygiene rating: you will lose marks in your EHO inspection if you can’t provide evidence of training.
Part 6

How to make sure you are fully prepared for your EHO inspection this year

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.  

What does an EHO look for?

1. Safe food practices:

  • How food is handled and how it's prepared/cooked
  • Whether good practices are followed, e.g. staff washing hands, pest control etc.
  • Food hygiene and safety
  • Contamination prevention methods

2. Premises and environment:

  • Cleaning techniques and schedules
  • Equipment/appliances maintenance
  • Temperature control
  • Overall premises: cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation etc.

3. Safety management:

  • Whether you follow a food safety management system (e.g. HAACP)
  • Confidence in management, e.g. record-keeping

What else will they be checking during the pandemic?

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:

How to prepare for an inspection

Use this environmental health inspection checklist to inspect your premises and food safety standards before an inspection:

Safe food practices:

  • Do staff tie their hair back or wear a hairnet?
  • Do you keep staff sickness records?
  • Do you have colour-coded chopping boards?
  • Do you have a separate preparation area for raw foods?
  • Do staff regularly wash their hands?


  • Do you have a pest control system?
  • Do you have clean and tidy storage areas?
  • Do you have separate sinks for dishwashing and hand washing?
  • Do your fridges and freezers have thermometers?

Food safety management:

  • Do you have a food safety system?
  • Can you provide evidence of all your food safety procedures?
  • Do you have a cleaning schedule?
  • Do you use food probes and keep them clean and calibrated?

More top tips for staying prepared:

  • Keep the outside of your premises tidy (EHOs will judge before even stepping foot in the door)
  • Prove the correct actions have been taken with precise record-keeping
  • Make sure your team maintains good personal hygiene



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.