Some Of The UK’s Food Chains Are Making Basic Hygiene Blunders

Some of the UK’s best known food chains have been found wanting in their food safety standards under recent inspections from local authorities working with the Food Standards Agency.

The inspectors were working towards Food Hygiene and Safety ratings for each food outlet with a score system going from zero to five in the following manner.

* A zero rated food outlet needs “urgent improvement”.
* One indicates the need for “major improvements”.
* A score of two specifies “improvements” of some kind.
* Three is “satisfactory”.
* Four is “good”.
* Five denotes “very good”.

It is not unreasonable to expect our biggest food chains to score consistently highly from such inspections as it reflects their companies professionalism and dedication to providing safe food for their customers, but sadly the reports show that in almost a third of the food houses inspected seriously worrying results were found.

The basic food hygiene blunders found included items such as mouse droppings next to open food, poor hand washing practices, color coding safeguards against cross contamination of bacteria systematically compromised. raw foods handled with cooked, refrigerator temperatures set too high. In fact the full list of dangerous practices found could almost be used as a catalogue of what not to do in a kitchen.

However the most worrying aspect of all was that many of the food handlers under inspection were unaware of their contraventions of how safe foods should be handled as described under The UK’s Food Safety Act.

The inspections covered thirty of the UK’s best known food chains and it would be unfair not to mention companies like Nando’s, Wetherspoons and McDonalds who were identified in the reports for scoring consistently highly.

However with the outlets of these three removed a total of around 3900 food outlets still remain, which if considered to perhaps have an average of 25 staff each, estimates a total food handling compliment approaching 100,000 workers, a third of which the reports infer are inadequately trained to undertake their jobs safely.

These loosely calculated 30,000 food handlers are out there serving potentially unsafe foods to innocent customers whilst their employers presumably concentrate on profit margins in preference to food standards.

So yes I would draw the conclusion from these reports that some of our UK’s biggest Food Chains are neglecting the training recommendations for Food Handlers as defined by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and I would applaud the Food Standards Agency together with the local authority Environmental Health Officers who brought this matter to light.