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records completed and the diary up to date with the day’s opening checks complete. It’s always good if all staff know where it is when asked. It never looks good if it takes 5 minutes to find it! Good records, stock rotation, packaging in the freezer and temperature control are all things an inspector will be looking out for, along with clean premises, equipment and containers and staff wearing clean protective clothing. Staff wearing clean chef’s whites look so much better than staff wearing jeans and trainers covered with a dark, often worn out apron. Try to think what your customers will think if they catch a glimpse of the staff in the kitchen. Finally, can the inspectors

leave your business thinking that the food is safe, and confident that the management will keep producing safe food until the next inspection? If they can’t, your confidence in management score will be poor and your Food Hygiene Rating Scheme score will be 1 or 0!

SB: DOES ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AROUND THE UK HAVE THE SAME GUIDELINES OR IN SOME AREAS ARE THEY LESS STRICT? RJ: All Environmental Health Officers work to the same standards which are set by the Food Standards Agency. There may be slight variations in law in Scotland, Wales and Ireland, but these are minor. Different inspectors may have a different approach, but the result should

be consistent. All inspectors are reasonable

people and will always be prepared to talk as long as the same old problems don’t keep coming up time after time. If you are unhappy with the way you have been treated you should speak to their manager and get it resolved. If we are wrong we need to know; if you are wrong you need to understand.

SB: IN THE EVENT THE RESTAURATEUR IS CAUGHT MAKING SOME MISTAKES, DOES HE HAVE THE RIGHT TO APPEAL THE DECISION? OR IS HE GIVEN SOME TIME TO TAKE CORRECTIVE MEASURES AND THEREFORE AVOID ANY DAMAGE TO HIS REPUTATION? RJ: When an Environmental Health Officer finds something wrong they will tell you about it and ask you to put it right. A lot of restaurant owners don’t understand that even if they put the problems right quickly, they will still be scored on the conditions that the inspector found before the problem was put right. That is why it is so important to manage your business so that it runs properly all the time and you can be sure that the inspector sees it at its best. It’s no longer good business to wait to see what the inspector thinks and then do anything they ask for. You have to be pro-active. Your score will be placed on

the Food Standards Agency website and will be available to the public to check. Inspectors go to some length to ensure that

these scores are correct and they are based on publicly available criteria, so there shouldn’t be any grounds for complaint. If you feel that your score hasn’t been given fairly, you have a right of appeal within 14 days and this will be dealt with by a manager. All the information you need can be found on the Food Standards Agency website.

SB: DOES THE ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH OFFER TRAINING SERVICES OR GENERAL ADVICE TO RESTAURANTS? RJ: The provision of training varies a lot between local authorities. If you want to know what services are available, call your Environmental Health team and speak to them. Better still go on their website to see what is available.

SB: ARE THERE ANY OTHER POINTS YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD? RJ: The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is still new and customers are slowly becoming aware of the scores and how to check before they book. As the scheme gets better known, customers will start using smartphone apps to check scores. Consequently achieving a good score of four or five will become more and more important to your business. n


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