How does your restaurant rate?

The last thing you want to think about before an important dinner – or a Valentine’s Day date –  is whether or not the place you choose takes food hygiene seriously.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme means you don’t have to.

The Food Standards Agency is urging you look before you book and check the food hygiene rating before deciding where to go. .

The truth is, you can’t tell a restaurant’s hygiene standards by how clean and tidy the staff look or by how romantic the décor and ambience is.

It’s the things you can’t see – like germs spread by bad hygiene practices – that you need to consider. There’s one easy way to set your mind at rest – check the food hygiene rating. This tells you about hygiene standards in restaurants and other food businesses.

It’s really simple to check. Just go online to the Food Standard Agency’s website: www.food.gov.uk/ratings or if you’re out and about look for the green and black sticker; If you can’t see one just ask the staff.

The ratings are determined by local authority food safety officers and range from 0 to 5,  with a 5 rating meaning very good food hygiene standards.

Over 90% of food businesses are rated a 3 or higher so there are plenty of places with good food hygiene standards, you can choose from. This means you can easily avoid taking your special date to those places not meeting the grade.

It’s good for business too

Valentine’s is a busy time for food businesses and a good food hygiene rating is something to be proud of. So make sure you reassure your customers by putting your sticker up in the window. Businesses with higher food hygiene ratings agree that can helps bring hungry customers through the door.

Thousands of food businesses displaying a 3 to 5 rating say it made a positive difference to their business.

You can find out more at www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/caterers/hygieneratings

Catriona Stewart, head of the Food Hygiene Ratings Team at the Food Standards Agency, said: “On Valentine’s Day people are focused on making sure that special lunch or dinner goes well and that they make a good impression with their date.  We want them to factor in the food hygiene rating when deciding where to go and then enjoy their romantic meal out.”