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EssentialHealth & Safety


Consumers in most areas can see how well a food business complies with food hygiene regulations through a 'Scores on the Doors' scheme run by their local authority. CoLaw's Mike Ellerby explains what this means to cafés

Make sure your café gets a 5-star food hygiene rating

The primary purpose of these 'Scores on the Doors' schemes is to allow consumers to make informed choices about the places in which they eat out and from which they purchase food, and, through this, to encourage businesses to improve hygiene standards. Journalists also make use of the 'Scores on the Doors' system to publicise the standards of food businesses. Local authority enforcement officers are responsible for inspecting food businesses to ensure that they meet the legal requirements on food hygiene. Under 'Scores on the Doors' schemes, each food outlet is given a hygiene rating or hygiene score that reflects the inspection findings and may display this in their premises where consumers can see it. Scores are also available via websites where consumers can see the scores for all the businesses in the local area. At the moment, more than 200 local authorities across the UK have 'Scores on the Doors' schemes in place. These schemes vary in their design and the way that they are operated. Some authorities use a star grading system - usually three or five star ranges - others use smiley face symbols. The Food Standards Agency is hoping to standardise the system nationwide to make it easier to understand. Freedom of information legislation means that inspection

reports on food hygiene are in the public domain and any member of the public can ask to see them. 'Scores on the Doors' makes food safety conditions at individual premises even more obvious and accessible to the public and the media. To maximise your potential 'Scores on the Doors' score it is obviously important to demonstrate good cleaning and food

safety practices during the inspection. Just as important as this, however, is to be able to prove that management and staff have received adequate training in food hygiene and that there is a sufficient written food safety management system in place. The weighting given to training and management systems in the scoring of 'Scores on the Doors' is high. This often means that where these are lacking, a low score is given even when the physical conditions and practices on site during the inspection are good. Creating a food safety management system does not have to be complicated. The Food Standards Agency has provided a very easy to use system called 'Safer Food, Better Business' which can be found on the Internet or can be provided in paper form from your local authority Environmental Health Department. The hazard analysis part of the system is in a really easy to use 'fill in the gaps' format and the record-keeping diary is also very simple. There is no requirement for endless records and emphasis is put on only recording things that go wrong and what corrective action is taken. Training is also easy to do. The 'Safer Food, Better Business' system itself can be used to aid in-house training and excellent food safety courses are available from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and other organisations. These are often available through local colleges, local authorities and many private training centres.

More information: CoLaw T: 0845 658 8703 W:

Information about any advertisements appearing in this issue: Essential Café 39

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