The FSA, or Food Standards Agency, introduced the “Food Hygiene, level 5 – 0” as part of a rating scheme rolled out across the United Kingdom in 2008. Food operators who excel in managing food hygiene and safety risks are awarded a rating of level 5.
Food ratings apply where food is supplied, consumed or sold. These food operators include:
- restaurants, pubs, and cafes
- takeaways, food vans, and stalls
- canteens and hotels
- supermarkets and other food shops
- schools, hospitals and care homes
An inspector will examine three areas of a food operating business to determine what rating to award. These areas of significance are:
- Food hygiene and safety procedures. Examples of what is looked for is safe food preparation, cooking and storage and measures to prevent cross-contamination. Food businesses are graded in accordance with their compliance with industry standards.
- Structural facilities and procedures. Examples of what the inspectors look for in this area are workspace layout and design: handwashing facilities and the state of repair of fixtures and equipment. The inspector also looks for evidence of pest control and adequate waste disposal.
- Confidence in management. Here the inspector wants to see how management document food safety procedures based in the principles of HACCP. The inspector examines the controls that are put in place including staff training and their understanding of food hazards.
If you eat at a restaurant, bar or other food business that has been awarded a Level 5 award in Food Hygiene, you can be safe in the knowledge that this business has met all of the following criteria:
- This business meets and exceeds the legal requirements and industry guidelines for food hygiene and safety procedures that have been set out by the FSA, Food Standards Agency.
- All necessary controls are in place to prevent cross-contamination of raw, cooked and ready to eat foods. There is also full compliance for safe food preparation, cooking, and storage.
- This business meets and exceeds the protocol for a good layout. This gives food handlers sufficient space to work in, in order to prevent the risks of cross-contamination in food preparation and cooking.
- This business meets and exceeds protocol for good design which allows for easy access to ensure equipment and premises are kept clean and sanitised.
- Premises and equipment are kept clean and in good condition. They are is a robust system in place to monitor the condition of fixtures and equipment and replace or repair equipment when required.
- There is a robust system in place to handle waste disposal and for the prevention of pests gaining access to the premises.
- Management have documented procedures in place for HACCP, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. These records are continuously maintained and updated.
- Staff are appropriately trained and supervised. They have a good knowledge of the principles of HACCP and are supervised to ensure they comply with safety and hygiene regulations.
- Hazards are fully understood, controlled, managed and reviewed by management and documented evidence can be produced to prove this.
- The business conducts external audits and hold a good track record on food safety and hygiene.
To check the food standards rating of food operators in your areas and across the UK, you can access the following sites. The FSA site records the date of the most recent inspection.