Tag Archives: safety

Avoiding fake hygiene ratings for a tummy-friendly Christmas

I can’t believe that nearly half of the UK general public (41% to be exact) never check food hygiene ratings for restaurants they’re about to visit.

On the one hand, I can see their scepticism about checking. Last year, the FSA warned many businesses about displaying fake ratings on their windows rather than the real McCoy, threatening prosecution. In the UK, businesses don’t have to display the hygiene rating sticker, but it’s becoming so commonplace around the country that windows without any stickers look ominously out of place. Some morally suspect restauranteurs have taken it upon themselves to manufacture a good rating, despite the possible health risks involved. (I can’t help but think it’s less much effort to simply clean your kitchen and practise good food preparation techniques.)

So, ahead of Christmas 2014, the Food Standards Agency is calling on people to check the food hygiene ratings of restaurants before booking Christmas meals, and this is better achieved by using the official app (which you can’t cheat).

So anyway, those statistics … Half of the UK don’t check ratings. Aaargh! It’s not worth the risk! And this is despite 39% of people reporting that they had a bad experience when eating out, and suspecting they contracted food poisoning from a restaurant or takeaway. In other words, you’ve already been burned and you still take the risk.

“The people we spoke to through our poll spend a lot of time and effort planning festive meals to make sure their family and friends have a good time, yet very few make food hygiene a priority,” said Catriona Stewart from the FSA. “It’s quick and easy to check a restaurant’s food hygiene rating online. Just go to the FSA website (www.food.gov.uk/ratings).

“Most restaurants have a rating of 3 or above,” said environmental health officer Emma Richbell. “However, as an inspector, I often think consumers would be surprised at which restaurants fall short of good practice. I’d urge everybody to look at the official food hygiene rating, rather than chance it by choosing a place they think will be OK.”

Don’t take chances. If, like me, you love Christmas and want it to pass without any great mischief to your insides, download the app and have a very happy one. In fact, use Foursquare or Yelp and share the good vibes with everybody else!


An overview of the food forum in Chicago

The Food Technology, Innovation & Safety Forum was an event attended by some of the biggest names in the North American food industry, thrust together courtesy of WTG for the sake of reaching out for new business, sharing business philosophies and eating unhealthy ‘conference food’.

The real value for me was inside the conference halls, where a select group of businesspeople encouraged their peers to embrace the challenges we all face for a more sustainable future, with a nod in the direction of Paul Comey (Green Mountain Coffee) and Yves Potvin (Garden Protein) in particular.

With good humour and almost faultless presentations, these two pitched their respective philosophies with common sense examples of how being ‘a better company’ means embracing change for all of the right reasons. I can only hope that the right people were listening.

I’m happy to say that I recorded a handful of interesting conversations while in Chicago, and you can hear my chat with Paul Comey below.

I also took a few pictures, which you can see at this Flickr link.