7 Tips to help you prepare for your food hygiene inspection

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Do you run a food business? Or perhaps you bake from home? I’ll go through everything you need to prepare for your food hygiene inspection, from cleaning to food safety management systems and record keeping. You will also find out what sanitiser you need to use in your business.

7 Tips for your Food Hygiene Inspection

1. Register as a food business

Make sure you are registered as a food business with your local authority’s Environmental Health department. This is a legal requirement! You can find your local authority and register with them here.

If you don’t do this you are unlikely to be added to the inspection list at the local authority so you will likely be waiting a long time for your first food hygiene inspection which will delay you receiving that all important rating of 5! Also, if the EHO visits and finds out you aren’t registered, this can affect your ‘confidence in management’ score, which is one of the criteria needed to achieve a good food hygiene rating.

2. Food Safety Management System

Ensure you have a documented food safety management system (also known as a HACCP system) in place (you can’t get a rating of more than 1 out of 5 unless you do!). During the food hygiene inspection this will likely be the first thing the EHO asks for.

Most small businesses (and home bakers) use the Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) pack. This can be downloaded for free from the Food Standards Agency website or by clicking here.

3. Food Hygiene Training

Make sure that your staff who handle or prepare food are trained in food safety. They should be trained to a level that enables them to carry out their work tasks safely. For example; a front of house staff member would be undertaking lower risk food handling tasks compared to a chef who is making the meals and preparing food items. Generally, food handlers should be trained to at least Level 2 in Food Safety. But don’t forget, a food hygiene certificate on its own is not enough. In a food hygiene inspection the EHO will expect to see that your staff are putting into practice what they’ve learnt and preparing food safely in real life.

4. Allergens

Make sure you know what allergens are in your dishes and products and that staff have received basic training in allergens including how to deal with allergen requests from customers and how to prepare food safely for someone with a food allergy.

Click here to access free online allergen training provided by the Food Standards Agency.

You can find further information on allergens, download an allergen matrix to record your dishes (and an allergen sign) by clicking here.

5. Cross-contamination

A common reason for a business to receive a low rating from their food hygiene inspection is cross-contamination. This can occur when raw foods are stored next to or above ready to eat foods. Ensure your fridges are freezers are organised to keep raw and ready to eat foods separate at all times.

Cross-contamination can also occur when the same boards, utensils or work surfaces are used to prepare raw and ready to eat foods.

Finally, our hands can cause significant cross-contamination. Hand washing by food handlers is so important to prevent cross-contamination and definitely something the EHO will want to see happening regularly during the food hygiene inspection.

6. Food storage

Make sure your food items are stored correctly. Food items should be covered or stored in suitable containers and date labelled. Make sure you keep track of dates and discard any foods that are past their use by date. You may not realise, but it is actually a criminal offence to offer for sale food that is past its use by date. Ingredients containing allergens should be stored separately in designated containers and clearly labelled.

7. Cleaning

I’m sure you will agree, that a food business or kitchen that is used to prepare food for the public must be clean. There is a cleaning schedule in the SFBB pack that will help you keep track of every item in your kitchen that needs to be cleaned.

The EHO will require you to have a sanitiser that complies with either BS EN 1276 or BS EN 13697. These British Standards are the officially recognised standards for assessing the effectiveness of disinfectants against a range of bacteria. You can sometimes find these British Standards on the product label. But if you can’t there is a helpful list here.

HOW TO GET YOUR

5 STAR RATING

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

FREE EBOOK!

“How to get your 5-star food hygiene rating.”

Written by Chartered Environmental Health Officer, Natalie Stanton.

Includes a 50-point inspection checklist!

Learn what the officer will be inspecting and achieve the top Food Hygiene Rating for your business.

Here's how I can help you

Get food safety training from an Environmental Health Officer (EHO). 

This is the UK’s first self-taught, online Level 2 Food Safety & Hygiene course for Catering that is created and taught by EHO, Natalie Stanton. There are no PowerPoint slides and no monotonous voiceover. In only 2 hours, Natalie guides you through the key aspects of food safety in 13 short, pre-recorded videos.