One of the ambitions for our redeveloped store is to grow our food to go business. When we reopened last July we started to gain a reasonable trade with hot pies, but this collapsed when my brother opened a fish & chip shop next to us.
Both Jai and I are delighted with my brother’s success, but it means we have to change our approach. Our aim now is to fill in the gaps that Sid’s Fish & Chip Café leaves. Our first step is to make our own sandwiches with the help of our bake off supplier Country Choice. After a few weeks we are already starting to gain a reputation for freshness and quality, compared to the factory made ones we stock.
For customers to have complete confidence in the food that we sell we need to be awarded 5 stars for our Food Hygiene Rating. This is one aspect of our food offer that I really want to get right as currently our rating is a 4. I want to lift this to the top rating as quickly as I can to give our customers total confidence in the food we sell.
The Food Standards Agency website has a lot of information on food hygiene for business. Their leaflet “Good hygiene is good for business” explains how inspectors calculate the score. The rating you are given will depend on:
- How hygienically the food is handled – how it is prepared, cooked, cooled, stored, and what measures are taken to prevent food being contaminated with bacteria
- The condition of the structure of your premises, including cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation, equipment and other facilities
- How you manage and record what you do to make sure food is safe
The food safety officer will explain to you if there are any improvements needed: what they are and how you can achieve a higher rating. Any business should be able to reach the top rating.
My task is to raise our performance and I constructed an action plan with the help of Country Choice.
- Ensure that our food handling processes continue to meet FSA standards using Safer food, better business for retailers as my guide.
- Ensure that our records continue to be kept to a high level.
- Ensure all employees who handle food are properly trained.
- Ensure that our suppliers operate in a safe manner.
- Improve our food preparation area.
I am confident that the first four points are up to the required standard. It is our food preparation area that needs attention. I am currently talking to our builder about the alterations that are needed. We already use a stainless steel counter and a double-door glass fronted fridge for our reserve food stock.
The improvements will include an easy wipe down back panel, a defined working area with easy to wash floor covering and food preparation basin. We have already identified the space that we will be using, so once I have agreed with the builder the scope of work, the price and a date, the work will get done.
After this is completed I will arrange for Sheffield Council Environmental Health to send one of their inspectors along to inspect the store. If all goes well we will be granted a 5 for our food hygiene rating and I will know that we are doing everything we can to provide our customers safe food.
The Food Standards Agency’s Safer food, better business for retailers is a complete how to guide and can be found on their website.