Running a pub, bar, club or any other licensed operation is hard work. And food seems to figure highly – 38% of pub-goers now expect a high-quality menu.
Something that you might never have considered to be a marketing tool, not least as it’s now five years old, is the 0–5 point Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS), administered by local authorities and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
But it’s a good time to give this a little thought because the FSA is proposing to ask the Government to make the displaying of results mandatory in England, as it is in Wales and will be in Northern Ireland from October, after the Food Hygiene Rating Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 gained Royal Assent.
Recent research into the effectiveness of the FHRS throws up some interesting points.
For example, more than a third of businesses displaying their rating reported positive impacts including improved reputation, increased customer confidence and more customers.
So given its value, don’t just display your little green sticker in your window: be creative. Use it on your website, social media, newspaper advertisements, menus, chalkboards and anywhere else your customers look.
There is also evidence that the FHRS is driving up food hygiene standards, reducing the risk of contamination to your customers.
This is good news for the sector as there has been bad press over food poisonings recently; the seriousness of which cannot be overestimated.
And though I’m not suggesting the below plays any part of your FHRS inspection, you should adopt these practices to ensure that you are meeting the law with regards to your food, health and safety regulations; and I’m sure they won’t hurt your inspection either:
■ Food allergens: Since 2014 you have had the legal responsibility to display any of the 14 major food allergens contained in your food and drink to your customers.
■ The safety of your food: As a minimum, you should have a HACCP system (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point). This identifies the highest risk areas of the food operation and how those risks will be controlled. This includes the handling and storage of food as well as checking systems to make sure that food is cooked, chilled and reheated properly and is not used beyond its sell-by date.
And you should always have documented evidence of all training as well as records of any checks which are carried out and cleaning undertaken.
Health and safety: You should have health and safety policies and procedures.