Five Star Food Safety

Advice | Training | Tools

Food safety made simple

Free Food Safety Advice

All the advice food business owners need to get a five star food hygiene rating, written so that it is easy to understand and ‘jargon’ free. With real-life insights from EHO food inspections, you will learn what EHOs look out for and where other food businesses get it wrong.

Innovative CPD Training

Modern e-learning for food safety professionals, designed to be affordable, bite-size and interactive. Our online CPD training meets the requirements of the Food Standards Agency Code of Practice Competency Framework, and is designed for environmental health officers, consultants, and food safety officers.

Professional Tools

Developing algorithms, designing online databases, discussing complex food safety topics; these professional tools are designed to support food businesses and food safety professionals in new and interesting ways.

How to achieve a 5 star food hygiene rating

Every food business can achieve a five star food hygiene rating. All the food safety advice you need has been split into five easy to understand sections, to help make sure you are ready for when the Council EHO arrives!

There is a lot of good food safety advice out there, but it all seems to be written to go in a textbook. Here you will read it in simple terms and with real life experiences mixed in. Learn what an EHO looks for on an inspection and explore examples of where food businesses have ended up in court. Understand what happened and make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you!

1: Safe Food

How to prepare, cook and store food safely. Learn all the critical temperatures and understand the importance of keeping raw and ready-to-eat foods separate. We also discuss the importance of choosing good suppliers and checking our deliveries.

2: Cleaning

All you need to know about cleaning efficiently and effectively. Learn about two stage cleaning, contact time, what cloths to use, and how to store your chemicals. With all the EHO jargon explained!

3: Structure and Pests

Be aware of how your building can ruin your food hygiene rating. Learn the importance of hand wash basins, discover what basic pest control measures you need to know and how to look out for pests!

4: Personal Hygiene

Hand washing, use of gloves in the kitchen and food handlers wearing clean clothing, are all important food safety matters discussed. We also learn what to do with sick staff, and talk about toilet facilities!

5: Paperwork

Discover how to keep paperwork to a minimum and understand what the EHO is looking for and why. We explain the jargon of critical control points and look at what they really mean, and we also tackle the difficult topic of allergen control.

5 reasons to have a 5 star food hygiene rating

Having a five star food hygiene rating will make a significant difference to your business and ultimately make you more money! It is obvious to EHOs that businesses who do not take care of food safety are always complaining their business is poor, but business owners don't seem to understand why! Well, here are five reasons why!

  1. If you have a poor food hygiene rating, you’ll get fewer customers! More and more people are looking at business food hygiene ratings before choosing where to eat. If you have a low rating, they will not even bother looking at you.
  2. It gives you a competitive edge! If you have a five star food hygiene rating, more customers are likely to give your business a try. If your competitors have a low food rating, and you have a high one, they are more likely to visit you, without even looking at your menu!
  3. You’re less likely to get bad reviews or complaints! Having good food safety means you are unlikely to receive any complaints or have customers accusing you of giving them food poisoning. This will improve your score on sites such as Google and Trip Advisor and this means more new customers will give you a try!
  4. A low food hygiene rating will make customers think you are dirty! It might be that you just haven’t kept up with your paperwork, but customers will not understand this, they’ll just assume your business is dirty and as a result not visit you.
  5. Get good publicity! If you have a five star food hygiene rating, you can be promoted on food websites, be on food delivery sites such as Deliveroo and Just Eat, get in the local newspaper, shout about it in the high street – the options are endless! The fact is you can be proud of having a five star rating and tell people about it, rather than trying to hide your food hygiene rating from everyone and hoping nobody finds out!

Food Safety Top Tip

If you would like personal advice on food safety in your business, please get in contact to see how I can assist you.

Why a food business doesn’t get a 5

So many businesses do not get a food hygiene rating of five for the same reasons. There are typical problems that seem to plague businesses. It’s crazy that the same issues constantly turn up, but they do. Make sure you are not falling into the same traps by making sure none of these apply to you!

  1. Missing paperwork! Time and time again food businesses get into bad habits of not completing their paperwork. A day missed turns into a week missed and before you know it, the EHO is in your kitchen and you haven’t completed any checks for months. There goes your five star rating!
  2. Poor cleaning! It is time consuming to keep up with cleaning, especially when you have 100 other things to do! But it's bad news if you let it slip. Cleaning the kitchen at the end of the day will not take very long, cleaning it after you’ve left it a few days will take forever. Things get caked on, grease builds up; it all becomes too much! A dirty kitchen is possibly the easiest way to get into trouble. The EHO has to do no work at all, just walk into the kitchen and there goes your five star rating.
  3. Out of date food! The excuse “I would have checked the date before I used it” doesn’t go very far I’m afraid. The law is very clear: if it is in the kitchen and hasn’t been clearly marked NOT FOR SALE – it’s for sale! Forget to carry out your checks either in the morning or last thing in the evening and leave food past its use by date, and you may lose out on the five star rating.
  4. Poor temperature control! This often catches out businesses that rely on the digital display for their fridges. These can be wildly inaccurate. It also catches out food business operators who are completely unaware that chilled food must be stored at or below 8°C. You need to know this, memorise it, and check your fridges are keeping up with it!
  5. Damage to the building! The tired kitchen is often to blame for losing out on the five star rating. Peeling paint, broken handles, split fridge seals, etc. Not only have you got a risk of physical bits of paint getting into your food, but you also have places impossible to keep clean and therefore ideal places for breeding bacteria. They all start racking up and leaving you with no hope of the top rating.

Serious food safety problems

If you have a 5 star food hygiene rating, you’re considered 'very good'. You can be rated 'good' (4 star), or 'generally satisfactory' (3 star). Achieve any of these ratings and you’re unlikely to get into any real trouble.

However, get 2 stars and below and you can be in serious trouble with the EHO. Your business is at serious risk of injuring someone and the EHO will not let that continue to happen. You may end up in court with a big fine, or even prison. Here are the top five reasons this happens to food businesses.

  1. Pest infestation! The easiest way for an EHO to prosecute you is to present evidence at court of rats, mice, or cockroaches running rampant in your kitchen. If you have an issue with pests in your kitchen, stop preparing food and deal with it straight away.
  2. Filthy premises! So many businesses don’t keep up with cleaning and before you know it the kitchen is filthy. The EHO will take pictures and the court will have no choice but to take action. You have to keep your kitchen clean, or face the consequences.
  3. Poor allergen management! Allergens are the biggest emerging issue in food safety. Twenty years ago, they were not much of a consideration. Now they are critical and have sadly led to the death of multiple people in recent years. Don’t let this be you, make sure you understand how to manage allergens in your food business.
  4. Dangerous food preparation! The risks from cross contamination are high. You can pass food poisoning pathogens from raw foods to ready-to-eat foods with ease if you are not careful. Doing so can be fatal, and EHOs will take serious action if they see it in your kitchen.
  5. Poor handwashing! This may be food handlers not washing their hands when they should, but can be for the even simpler reason that the food business doesn’t even have the facilities for staff members to wash their hands in the first place! You need hand washing facilities, with a supply of hot water, soap and hand drying material.

Food Safety Top Tip

Maintaining hygiene in mobile food businesses is an added challenge given the environments they often operate in, and it is one that sampling results in 2019 indicate is not being managed very well! Over half of environmental swabs were unsatisfactory, with poor results mostly occurring on chopping boards, worktops and food containers. 80% of cloths were unsatisfactory too!

Perhaps the most concerning were the results of water samples, with coliform bacteria detected in over half of the water samples. Indicators of faecal contamination were found in 14% of samples!

How does faecal contamination get into a container only used to hold drinking water you may ask? And if it does, why is it still there when the EHO turns up? Answer: poor food safety practices, poor personal hygiene, and poor cleaning!

Businesses need to understand that water containers need cleaning too, and not just every week. This is too long! A container that is filled and re-filled on a regular basis must be cleaned regularly and with a suitable sanitiser.

5 common sources of food contamination

Preventing food from becoming contaminated is vital to running a safe food business. Here are five common sources of contamination every food business owner needs to be aware of.

  1. The Environment: Foods grown outside may be contaminated with soil. Soil can contain pathogenic micro-organisms. You may also be bringing in unwanted bugs with complaints of spiders and other bugs in supermarket salads quite common!
  2. Staff members: Personal hygiene is vital as employees can bring all sorts of contamination with them into the food business. This may be from their environment, such as pet hair on their coat, or from themselves, such as flaking skin or falling out hair.
  3. Food packaging: Any foods that you bring in need to be checked for contamination. You may have dust or dirt on the boxing, or bacteria on the packaging of raw meat. Check for visible contaminants but also think about those microscopic contaminants and how you will keep food safe.
  4. Equipment or utensils: A common concern for EHOs is utensils or equipment being in poor condition and representing their own contamination risk. For example, a melted stirring spoon where pieces of plastic can shed into food as it’s being stirred.
  5. Ventilation: Extraction systems are often poorly maintained in smaller food businesses. They need regular cleaning and maintenance to not only operate correctly but to prevent them becoming a source of contamination themselves. Condensation or fat accumulations can drip off into food. Poorly designed systems will cause bacteria to be circulated around food handling areas to settle on ready-to-eat food.

Top 5 things an EHO will look for

So, what will the EHO most likely look for when they come to visit you? Of course, the EHO will look at lots of different things and will usually be with you about 90 minutes. But it doesn’t hurt to know that these areas are always going to be looked at and are the cause of many businesses not obtaining a five star food hygiene rating.

  1. Is the kitchen clean? If the EHO walks into the kitchen and it is dirty, you are going to be in for a long inspection. Of course, there is nothing wrong with 'working dirt'. If you are preparing foods there will be some mess. Likewise, if it is the end of a busy shift there will be food on the floor, etc. But there is an easy difference between this and dirt that is there because you do not clean regularly. The EHO will know the difference!
  2. Do you have adequate hand washing facilities? The first thing the EHO will do when entering your kitchen is go to wash their hands. It's what you and your staff should be doing as well. If the EHO finds the hand wash basin not properly stocked, or without hot water, you are in trouble.
  3. How are you preparing and separating raw and ready-to-eat foods? Contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods is a serious food safety problem. EHOs will want to see and hear how you are making sure these foods are being kept well away from each other.
  4. What paperwork do you have? How much paperwork you need will depend on the size of your business, but it's important to have that documentation ready for the EHO and for you to understand it and be putting it into practice.
  5. Is your food being stored, prepared and sold within temperature requirements? Temperature control is a critical part of keeping food safe to eat. Be prepared to explain to the EHO how you manage this and make sure you are aware of all the critical temperature limits.

Food safety training

Five Star Food Safety has developed online CPD training for food safety professionals, to ensure you have the necessary knowledge to implement food hygiene legislation. Our e-learning training is designed to meet the needs of the FSA Competency Framework, which means you can be confident taking our courses will continue your professional development in the food safety sector.

Learn something

Our online training courses have been developed to provide an interactive learning experience. These courses are not just boring pages of text or PowerPoint presentations, they are designed to make you think, interact, and at the end of the course sit back and say, “I learned something today!”

Anytime, anywhere

Our courses can be taken anytime, anywhere, and at a very competitive price to ensure they are affordable to even the tightest budget. You can complete our courses on desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile phone – wherever is best for you! You have 1 year to complete the course once purchased, so you can take it at your own pace.

Continual Professional Development

Our training certificates can be used to evidence your continuing professional development requirements, whether as a food safety professional or a food handler; keeping you up-to-date with the latest in food safety developments and keeping your knowledge at the top of the game.