RESTAURANTS and food businesses in Exeter are being offered behind-the-scenes tips on how to improve their food hygiene ratings.
Exeter City Council is holding sessions on running a food business and how to get a maximum 5 rating.
The sessions cost just £10 and aim to take the mystery out of food safety inspections. The next session will take place at the Civic Centre in Paris Street, Exeter, on Thursday 17 April from 10am until midday.
Environmental health officers from the City Council carry out regular inspections of all eateries and places that sell food in Exeter. The results of their findings feed into the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, developed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
Restaurants, pubs, hotels, cafes, takeaways and other places that sell or serve food are given a score of zero to 5, depending on their hygiene standards. A zero score means ‘urgent improvement necessary’ and a 5 signifies 'very good’.
The ratings can be checked online at http://ratings.food.gov.uk/ Those eating out can also look out for the distinctive green and black stickers that businesses are encouraged to display to inform customers of the rating they were given.
Cllr Keith Owen, Lead Councillor for Environment, Health and Wellbeing, said: "We're being open and transparent about this - why wouldn't we be? It's in everyone's interests to have the best possible food hygiene ratings, for the restaurants and food businesses and for the people eating out. Food hygiene is so important and getting it wrong can be extremely damaging for a business and harmful to its customers. We hope as many people as possible can book themselves onto these courses."
Dean Carpenter, who runs the Big Potato stall in Castle Street, Exeter, has a 5 rating and takes food hygiene very seriously. He said: "I’m very proud of my 5 star rating. It reassures customers and it’s one of the first things people look for when they eat out, so it's very important to make sure I keep it."
To book a place on one of the courses, contact 01392 265147.