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day. A poorly completed Safer Food Better Business folder is quite likely to lead to a Food Hygiene Rating score of one. Other issues include a lack of hand washing materials, a lack of knowledge of cross contamination, poor knowledge of sanitiser use, a lack of cleaning and no pest control. Failure to identify and deal with pest control problems equals a low Food Hygiene Rating Scheme score and sometimes formal closure.

SB: ARE THERE ANY NEW LAWS OR GUIDELINES RELATING TO FOOD HYGIENE RATINGS WHICH RESTAURATEURS SHOULD BE AWARE OF? RJ: In Wales it will soon be an offence not to display your rating in the front window and Ireland also has proposals for a similar law. In England and Scotland it is an offence under Trading Standards law to display a different window sticker to that currently awarded to the business. It is therefore essential to ensure that you always put your latest window sticker on display and throw the old one away. There are no new guidelines which restaurants need to know about, but it is a good idea for business to check the food standards website regularly for any changes. Restaurants do however need to know about some older publications. One of the most important is the Food Standards Agency guidance on controlling e coli 0157 cross contamination. Its contents are

vital to running a safe kitchen and failure to comply with the guidance will result in poor scores. Safer Food Better Business, which I have already mentioined, is another vital document.

SB: TRAINEE STAFF ARE ALWAYS VULNERABLE TO MAKING MISTAKES. IF AN INSPECTOR IS INFORMED IN ADVANCE, WILL THIS BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION? RJ: Trainee staff are always a potential weak point for a food business and even though they join at the lowest level in the business, they must still get close supervision and training to be able to work safely. All new staff joining the business must be trained in the basics of food hygiene. This must happen on their first day in the kitchen. It’s a good idea to make a note of the training somewhere and in the first week they must be taken through the basics of the Safer Food Better Business manual. Within the first three months they should be given further training in food hygiene, preferably a level two course. Unfortunately simply telling an inspector that a staff member is new will not affect the situation if they are cross contaminating food in front of the inspector! It is the duty of the business to ensure they are safe or closely supervised from day one.


PRACTICE. WHAT ARE YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACHIEVING THIS? RJ: This really just comes down to good staff management. You work hard to achieve a consistent food quality and would be horrified if your customers were saying that they don’t visit your restaurant because the food was sometimes good, sometimes poor! Ask yourself how you achieve this and you will probably find that you set clear guidelines, monitor the quality closely and take action as soon as you become aware that standards have dropped. It’s really the same with hygiene. The only difference is that your customers don’t get to make their judgement until they hear about the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme - and then it’s too late to take action.

SB: IN GENERAL TERMS WHAT ARE THE MAIN RISK FACTORS THAT AN INSPECTOR WILL LOOK INTO AND WHICH CAN AFFECT THE RESTAURANT? RJ: For a good rating score an inspector will expect to see a number of things. One is having an open attitude to inspection. Asking inspectors to wait before showing them into the kitchen will raise suspicion. An inspector will not wait long, if at all, so you may as well show them straight in!

An organised food safety management system is also important. Safer Food Better Business is the usual system and they will expect to see the safe methods complete, training



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