Nina Purcell, director of regulatory delivery at the Food Standards Agency, on the value of the Food Hygiene Rating System to bakery businesses
A good food hygiene rating is beneficial for businesses. That is what thousands of food companies, including British bakers, have learned across the country since we first introduced the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) in 2010.
The scheme has rewarded businesses that are taking food hygiene seriously and has pushed others to raise their game.
It gives your customers information on the standards of food hygiene in your business. It takes the results of official food hygiene inspections carried out by local authority food safety officers and makes them available in a way that is easily accessible and straightforward to understand.
Since the introduction of FHRS, we have seen a continued improvement in standards of food hygiene. In September 2017, 67% of businesses with a rating were achieving the top standard of ‘5 – very good’ with 95% achieving a rating of ‘3 – generally satisfactory’, or better.
This is good news for those businesses. A good food hygiene rating is something to be proud of. The sticker in the window shows people you take food hygiene seriously and can help attract new customers. Businesses with higher food hygiene ratings agree that it helps bring more people through the door. Our research has shown more than a third of food businesses displaying a 3 to 5 rating say it has been good for their business.
The proportion of people indicating they use the ratings to make a decision about where to eat out or buy food has increased. Our latest research shows that 44% of people check the rating on a regular basis and most (62%) do so by checking the sticker displayed in the door or window.
But we think there is room for even more improvement.
Legislation has been introduced in Wales and Northern Ireland that requires food businesses to display their ratings. Since the introduction of this in Wales, there has been a 21 percentage point increase in businesses achieving a rating of ‘5 – very good’.
We remain committed to the successful and trusted FHRS and will continue to ensure it is sustainable. We will also work towards the introduction of a statutory scheme that would require mandatory display of ratings, as is the case in Wales and Northern Ireland.
If you want to know more about the scheme or about the improvements a good hygiene rating can bring your business, please visit www.food.gov.uk