All restaurants and takeaway outlets in England should be made to display their food hygiene scores by law says the Local Government Association (LGA). The body, that represents councils in England, says the move should be made as part of post-Brexit legislation and highlights the need for catering establishments to demonstrate their hygiene standards to the paying public.
This is an announcement that should be welcomed by the professional cleaning industry says cleaning hardware manufacturer Robert Scott. “On one hand, it seems to be something of a no-brainer - why would you not want to advertise the fact that your restaurant has a high level of cleanliness and hygiene standards and, on the other hand, consumers should have easy access to the standards of an establishment they intend to visit,” said Alastair Scott, sales director of Robert Scott.
“The lack of a visible hygiene rating in a business means that customers are left in the dark on official kitchen cleanliness levels when eating or buying food there. As this announcement follows quickly on the heels of the recent disclosures by BBC’s Watchdog programme, which found unacceptable levels of bacteria in some of the country’s leading restaurant chains, it’s again highlighted the need for us, as an industry, to do all we can to help the catering sector fulfil their obligations to the paying public. This whole issue should raise the level of concern regarding the cleaning of all food preparation surfaces, floors and dining tables, and ensuring that the right products and training for their use are used for each potentially hazardous surface area.”
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland helps consumers choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving them information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, takeaways and food shops. It’s not easy to judge hygiene standards on appearance alone so the rating gives potential customers an idea of what’s going on in the kitchen, or behind closed doors and has been designed to encourage businesses to improve hygiene standards.
A food safety officer inspects a business to check that it meets the requirements of food hygiene law. The officer will check: How hygienically the food is handled - how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled, and stored; the condition of the structure of the buildings - the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation, and other facilities; and how the business manages what it does to make sure food is safe and so that the officer can be confident standards will be maintained in the future. Each of these three elements is essential for making sure that food hygiene standards meet requirements and the food served or sold to you is safe to eat.
The hygiene standards found at the time of inspection are then rated on a scale. At the bottom of the scale is ‘0’ - this means urgent improvement is required. At the top of the scale is ‘5’ - this means the hygiene standards are very good.
Alastair Scott explained: “Our obvious concern is point number two of the criteria list in that all equipment, work surfaces, floors, cupboards, walls, and appliances must be cleaned appropriately, regularly and thoroughly ensuring that dirt and grease are removed and bacteria is significantly reduced. One of the most effective materials to use is microfibre and, even better, a disposable version of this proven method of tackling the removal of bacteria without the need for potential harmful chemicals. As one of the first companies, nearly 20 years ago, to introduce microfibre into our range of professional janitorial cleaning cloths and mops, we are constantly improving and introducing more and more effective products to help the catering industry - such as the recently launched Mi-cloth, a new disposable microfibre cleaning cloth, designed to provide cleaning professionals with a quick and effective solution to the removal of bacteria from a wide range of surfaces.”
Scott continued: “Selecting the right product for the right job is also of obvious importance and, with this in mind, we have also recently launched a guide to help make it simpler to select the best products for the right cleaning area. This ‘bestseller’ guide includes star performers listed by the cleaning areas of top (ceiling or high spaces), middle (surfaces) and bottom (floors). And, to complete the range, we have also included a selection of washroom, waste and outside products. The guide makes product selection easy and quick and ensures that organisations can be confident of stocking the right equipment needed for each area of their premises. Finally, training on how to use and get the best out of each product is a major consideration and our sales teams are all available to help train staff, both managers and cleaning operatives, on getting the best from cleaning products.”