Just in time for the Summer Olympics, restaurants in London are posting their inspection scores. The Food Standards Agency rates the facilities on a scale of 1 to 5 in their Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. Authorities think that these ratings will help consumers choose where to eat out and encourage businesses to improve their food safety standards.
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme covers England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Scotland has a different program called the Food Hygiene Information Scheme, run by local authorities in partnership with the Food Standards Agency. Some local programs are also operating; you can see them by visiting the Food Standards Agency website.
The ratings are also posted at the Food Standards Agency website. A rating of “0″ means the facility needs urgent improvement, while a rating of “5″ means the facility has very good food safety standards. Restaurants aren’t legally required to post their inspection score at their place of business. Scores for all restaurants are available online. More than half of the businesses in England do display their ratings.
Ratings are given to restaurants, takeaway stores, cafes, sandwich shops, pubs, hotels, schools, hospitals, and residential care homes. Supermarkets, bakeries, and delicatessens are also rated. Some facilities, such as a newsstand that sells packaged candy, are not rated because they present a very low health risk.
During the inspection, a food safety officer checks to see if the food is handled, prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled, and stored properly. She will look at the condition of the building, including cleanliness and ventilation, and how the business manages and records its safety procedures. More detailed information about the facility will be the online food safety officer’s inspection report.
Facilities are inspected at different times, depending on how much risk a restaurant or pub’s food presents to the public health. A business can request a new inspection if they have received a poor rating only if improvements to hygiene have been made.