The safety of your customers should always be a priority. Good food hygiene means you ensure that what you prepare is fit to eat.

It’s difficult for business owners to keep track of guidance, so here’s the critical information you need. With these key points, ensuring good food hygiene will be a piece of cake.

This guide is a business toolkit for promoting good food hygiene, which includes:

  • Ratings
  • HACCP
  • Contamination
  • Cleaning

Business toolkit for promoting good food hygiene:

Ratings

Before you open, it’s a legal requirement to register your food business. Whether you:

  • Prepare
  • Cook
  • Store
  • Handle
  • Distribute
  • Supply
  • Sell

Without a registration, operating your food business could land you with a fine or a prison sentence of up to two years.

After you register, expect an inspection from your local council. Inspectors assess your food hygiene and use different schemes depending on where in the UK you are.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland

In most of the UK, the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is the standard inspectors use to check business’s premises and operations. 

The scheme checks how you:

  • Handle food
  • Store food
  • Prepare food
  • Clean your facilities
  • Manage food safety

With those measures, you receive a rating between 0-5. The zero-rating means urgent improvement is required –– five is an excellent standard.

Businesses display the ratings online or as a sticker in their shops. It’s compulsory to show it in Wales and Northern Ireland, but it’s voluntary in England.

Scotland

There’s a separate system in Scotland with the Food Hygiene Information Scheme. Instead of numbers, it has three ratings:

  • Pass — meets the legal requirement for food hygiene.
  • Improvement required — does not meet the legal requirement.
  • Exempt premises — inspected but not a part of the scheme (e.g. pharmacies or newsagents).

There is also an ‘awaiting inspection’ rating for new businesses after they set up. Companies don’t need to display their ratings but they are available for the public, through the Food Standards Scotland site.

An additional Eat Safe Award is for businesses in Scotland that provide outstanding food hygiene above the legal requirement. That can signal to the public your commitment to their safety.

HACCP

To reach the legal requirements you need, this business toolkit for promoting good food hygiene offers advice on managing your procedures.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a way to meet safety standards. It’s a set of crucial guidance set out by the Food Standards Agency. If followed, your business should be compliant with the law.

A HACCP plan is something that inspectors will check alongside the ratings. If you have one available, it can help prove that you manage food safety well.

Your HACCP plan should include:

  • Investigating — looking at each area of your premises and processes.
  • Identifying — finding potential risks or hazards for your food safety or hygiene.
  • Changing — taking action to decrease the chances of any safety compromises.
  • Checking — making sure that you follow the procedures to keep avoiding issues.
  • Recording — taking note of each stage and detailing if the processes need to change in future.

Potential hazards that could affect the safety of your food can include:

  • Microbiological — harmful bacteria spread.
  • Chemical — contamination from chemicals.
  • Physical — non-food objects getting into food.

Potential risks in your business may depend on the type of food you interact with or the processes you use. The Food Standards Agency offers an online web tool MyHACCP, to help you tailor your plan.

Contamination

Use this checklist within the business toolkit for promoting good food hygiene to avoid contamination.

Housekeeping

If you maintain your premises to a high standard, it can help you reduce the risk of food safety risks. 

Housekeeping for food hygiene includes:

  • Structure — keep your premises in good repair to avoid damage attracting bacteria.
  • Equipment — replace worn utensils or damaged equipment which could compromise food.
  • Storage — check chillers or freezers work correctly to prevent rotting food.
  • Waste — don’t leave rubbish in food areas too long, as it can attract pests.
  • Instructions — follow the instructions on cleaning products to avoid chemicals getting into food.

Pest control

Ensure that you avoid contamination from pests and know the signs to look out for that signal an infestation. Pests can carry disease that transfers into food if it comes into contact with them.

Signs that you should know:

  • Rats — footprints in dust, droppings or holes in walls.
  • Flies — buzzing, webbing or maggots.
  • Cockroaches — eggs, mounted skin or droppings.
  • Ants — piles of sand or soil, flying ants when hot outside.
  • Birds — feathers, nests or droppings.

Cleaning

As part of this business toolkit to promote good food hygiene, we recommend considering critical points on cleaning your business. 

Suppose you maintain a regular schedule to strive for cleanliness. In that case, you’re more likely to get a good hygiene rating and keep customers safe.

The things you need to wash with hot water and dish soap after each use include:

  • Preparation surfaces
  • Chopping boards
  • Cooking trays
  • Utensils
  • Food equipment

You may also need to use antibacterial sprays or wipes to regularly clean:

  • Rubbish bins
  • Door handles
  • Taps
  • Cash registers
  • Counters and shelves
  • Storage areas

In addition to clean preparation areas and premises, practice good personal hygiene. Wash your hands with warm soapy water and dry them properly before touching any food. 

You could also use gloves to prepare the food and wear a hairnet to avoid any follicles contaminating it.

Control your financial safety with Coungingup

A safe food business can thrive and serve customers with the standards they deserve. So it’s also vital that you keep your business away from financial hazards with excellent management.

Countingup is a business account with built-in accounting software which makes your admin accessible through your phone. 

With its cash flow insights feature, stay ahead of risks with alerts of the money that comes in or out.

Get started for free.

For more tips for food businesses, see:

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