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Eating Out – Food Hygiene Ratings Explained

Food Hygiene Ratings Explained

We all love dining out. Not only can it be romantic, social, and engaging, it is extremely convenient for when we aren’t in the mood to slave over the cooker. Despite its lovely convenience, after a meal out, I sometimes allow my thoughts to trail to what went on in that kitchen during my meal preparation.  Especially as my Dad is a Food Scientist and made me fully aware of food hygiene practices, good and bad. Was there cross contamination? Did the chef wash his hands?  I am truly grateful that these thoughts can be put to rest thanks to Hygiene Ratings issued by the Foods Standard Agency.

1. What Are Food Hygiene Ratings?

The food hygiene rating scheme (FHRS) is used to determine hygiene ratings at restaurants, pubs, cafes and takeaways, in order to make an informed decision on where to dine. This scheme was created by the Food Standards Agency and is operated by the government, and is made available to the general public.

2. What Are The Ratings Based On?

In order to get rated, a governing official must inspect an establishment. Upon inspection, the officer will check how hygienically the food is handled (how it is prepared, heated, stored), the condition of the buildings (cleanliness, ventilation, lighting), and what the business proactively does to enforce food safety.

3. What Do The Ratings Mean?

Once an inspection is complete, the officer will issue a rating between 0-5. 0 means urgent improvement is required, while 5 means a job well done and all three criteria were met above and beyond the standard.

4. How Do I Find A Rating?

You can easily search any food establishment in the UK by visiting food.gov.uk and then search by name. This is extremely convenient, and takes little to no time in order to deem a restaurant as safe or unclean – all while saving you a trip to places with poor hygiene practices. This search engine also works well for takeaway places, so the next time you are ordering up from your local takeaway, you can quickly check out the desired establishment before placing your order for delivery.

5.  How Does This Information Benefit My Family?

After researching the FHRS for different restaurants and choosing those with a top rating, you breathe easily with every order knowing that your food was handled properly, in a clean environment that prioritises hygiene. Poor hygiene can lead to bacteria, food poisoning, and dangerous viruses breed in contaminated food. For those families with food sensitivities, the hygiene rating will also reflect a restaurant’s cross contamination amounts, which can save you or your loved ones a trip to the hospital.

Although restaurants are not forced to shut down if given a poor rating, the FHRS gives power back to the consumers, we can make an informed decision on what and where to eat.

Image credit – Shutterstock – Red Wine in French Restaurant

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