Public perception of food hygiene
Gone are the days when we would select a place to eat based purely on cost and perhaps what our neighbour or friends told us about the place a few months ago! Price is still important to most people, of course, but of near equal status now, according to the Food Standards Agency’s public attitudes tracker, reported in their news feed on 31st July 2019, is the food hygiene rating. In fact, an incredible 66% of consumers now use the food hygiene rating stickers. This is quite probably a natural evolution of people’s thought processes. It simply goes in hand with the more risk aware world in which we now live. And whilst we don’t want to take the fun out of eating out, that risk is pretty serious! Recent news stories of the deaths of consumers from poor allergen control, outbreaks of Listeriosis in hospitals linked to the food supply chain into the affected hospitals and a rise in cases of a particular strain of Salmonella Typhimurium which have been linked to lamb and mutton, remind us that this is a serious subject!
Gaining and maintaining a good Food Hygiene Rating is about people!
Maintaining a good food hygiene rating may not be as simple as it seems. Quite often restaurants are reliant on the food safety knowledge of their chefs. Whilst Level 3 and Level 4 Food Safety certificates are an enormous help here, there are two problems. Both courses are run over several days and a certificate is awarded at the end. So far so good. But food safety relies on the individual, and of course the organisation, seeking to continue to develop knowledge and best practice, a process formally known as CPD or Continuing Professional Development. This is one area that is probably not well practiced, in all honesty. The other problem is that there is, for a myriad of reasons, high turnover, industry wide, of chefs. Food business often rely on their chefs for a source of food safety knowledge, but if there is high turnover then this knowledge is often lost with the chef that leaves the organisation. Then, the next incumbent may not have the depth of experience and knowledge of food safety issues. The result is a food safety management system that might be at best “sketchy”. Since food safety management is an important part of the scoring system that leads to a Food Hygiene Rating, this is not good news. Even partial failures in food safety management and awareness of food safety can see Food Hygiene Rating scores tumble from 5 back down to 3, 2 or even lower.
Using technology to improve Food Hygiene Rating
The solution here would be to enable and upskill the food business owners and managers operating within the business, so that they have a full and comprehensive understanding of what is required to achieve and maintain a Food Hygiene Rating of 5, thus providing assurance to those 66% (currently) of consumers who are actively using the food hygiene rating stickers, either physically posted up on the door, or displayed in websites and mobile phone apps such as “Scores on the Doors”.
The HygieneCheck app – easy to use technology
Well that solution has arrived, in the form of a unique food hygiene monitoring app for business owners, managers and chefs. Using the app you can accurately and consistently audit your food safety standards. You can use the results to make improvements to systems, conditions, food safety procedures and records. This will help you to achieve and maintain that all important Food Hygiene Rating of 5. The HygieneCheck app can be used easily on phone or tablet. You can objectively assess all of the conditions and systems that should be in place in accordance with the European Food Hygiene Regulations, legal requirements on allergen control and information and catering best practice. The HygieneCheck app is absolute simplicity to use, with every audit question including a hints and tips section. In most cases there are photographs of what to look out for, and indeed what to avoid! You can type in your audit findings, or even speak into the phone or tablet and let it do the typing for you! If you see a condition or record that you are concerned about then you can take a photo! This is invaluable
to assist in the corrections and improvements that you will then make. The report at the end will give you a simple percentage score and will tell you whether it’s an improvement or worse than last time. Useful trending reports are also available so that you can see, across all sites, which audit areas perform strongly, and which areas are consistently poor performing. This allows for the manager to take proactive measures to ensure improvement. This type of proactive approach is better all round than waiting for an environmental health officer to report negative issues – which may in turn significantly harm the Food Hygiene Rating awarded!
HygieneCheck news – watch this space!
Over a series of forthcoming articles, the team behind HygieneCheck, which includes food safety auditors and scientists with years of collective industrial experience, will explore some of the most common food safety failures that occur in Foodservice and will discuss and demonstrate practical measures to improve.
In the meantime, if you like the sound of the HygieneCheck app, then contact us and we will happily discuss your precise requirements.