Are Food Hygiene Standards Slipping?
By Ellis Ranger
Across England, thousands of restaurants and eateries have been once again rated from 0 to 5 on their food hygiene rating. The ratings, from the Food Standards Agency, are given by environmental health inspectors from the local authority, and are made up of three basic fundamentals:
- Management of food safety.
- Cleanliness and conditions of their facilities and the building.
- Hygienic food handling.
The ratings are made public so there’s no hiding place for restaurants whose standards are poor. Especially as they have to visibly show their ratings on their premises. And if recent reports are to be believed, there’s a strong case to say standards have dropped. Some businesses have even plummeted from the prestigious 5 to the undesired 1 or even 0.
The first thing that comes to mind when discussing hygiene is Covid-19 and the colossal impact it has had. It’s hard to imagine that eateries who provide us with food and drinks don’t have high cleaning standards.
Getting it wrong
Some restaurants have taken on board the feedback from the Food Standards Agency. Others have not and recent reports up and down the country show that:
- At least four restaurants in Bournemouth have seen their ratings crash from 5 to as low as 2 or even 1.
- In Stoke-on-Trent, 17 restaurants have an alarming rating of 1 and are teetering on the brink of hitting 0.
- In inspections carried out this summer, two restaurants in Slough were hit with a damning inspection report within days of each other.
So why are ratings declining, when there is such an outstanding reason to be more hygienic?
Inspections going far enough?
Could it be that hygiene inspections have become a lot more intense and thorough with the presence of Covid-19? Authorities have more than likely stepped up their efforts to ensure that cleanliness is a top priority in their local areas. With the final restrictions being lifted, it is vital that a high standard of hygiene is being upheld in not only takeaways and cafes, but everywhere. With the strict rating system, companies that may have got away with the bare minimum before are now suffering the consequences for not keeping up with the times.
Complacency kicking in?
And has the general population’s complacency towards hygiene, something we explored recently, rubbed off on business owners? There could be a case to say that. We reported on a survey which found that the presence of the coronavirus has not been enough to make some people more vigilant regarding cleanliness. But carrying these attitudes over into food outlets is a big mistake. Especially when the watchful eye of the authorities is keeping an eye on businesses.
While scores have dropped at some places, it is encouraging to see that some ratings have increased. And at least some of the worst offenders have addressed concerns raised. Hopefully it paves the way for what should be a better future for all involved.
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