Environmental Health - Food Safety & Standards

Frequently Asked Questions for this Service

Question: How do I avoid food poisoning during barbecues (BBQ) and summer events?

Answer: The main points to consider are:

· Cross-contamination of raw and ready-to-eat foods - Assume all raw meat is contaminated, but adequate cooking will destroy any viable bacteria. If raw meat touches food that does not require cooking e.g. salad, this food may become dangerous as any bacteria present will not be killed. Keep all raw meat totally separate, use different work surfaces and utensils and clean and disinfect regularly.

· Temperature control - Keep all high risk foods chilled in a fridge until needed for cooking or to be eaten. Don’t let cooked food sit at room temperature, either chill it down or keep it hot.

· Cooking - Properly cook foods like sausages, burgers and chicken. This should be done slowly to make sure the middle is cooked as well as the outside. Just because it looks burnt on the outside does not mean it is cooked throughout. It is a good idea to partially cook high risk foods in the oven and finish them off on the BBQ to get the flavour.

Further information and a short video can be found on the Food Standards Agency’s Website by following the link below.
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Question: Does the Isle of Wight Council have a food sampling programme?

Answer: Yes it does. Environmental Health takes part in local and national surveys when specified foods are sampled and tested for harmful bacteria, or for levels of bacteria which may not be harmful but indicate poor handling or storage conditions. Samples are also taken to check if other harmful substances are present in food or to see if the ingredients match the label.


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Question: Can the owner of a business ask the Council to inspect hygiene standards again to get a new food hygiene rating?

Answer: After the first planned food hygiene inspection the food business operator can ask for a re-inspection, but only if the improvements to hygiene that the environmental health officer told the business about at the last inspection have been made.

The owner or manager of the food business can only ask the Council once for another inspection to be carried out before the date of the next planned inspection. The inspection cannot be undertaken within the first three months following the initial planned inspection.

A re-inspection can be requested by completing the ‘Food Hygiene Rating Scheme Request for a Re-visit’ which can be found by following the link the below.

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Question: What can the owner of a business do if they think the rating given is unfair or wrong?

Answer: In the first instance the owner or manager of the business should talk to the environmental health officer that inspected the business about why the rating was given.

If the business owner or manager still believes that the rating is unfair or wrong, they can appeal in writing. The appeal form can be completed online by following the link below. Alternatively a form can be obtained from Environmental Health, Jubilee Stores, The Quay, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2EH. The completed form must reach the Environmental Health department within 14 days (including weekends and public holidays) of the date on which you were informed of your food hygiene rating.

You also have a ‘right to reply’. This form allows the business owner to inform people using the website how the business has improved hygiene or to say if there were unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection. A business’s right to reply will be published online by the Council with the business’s hygiene rating. The ‘right to reply’ form can be found here: https://www.iwight.com/eforms/eforms/FoodHygiene/P26612.aspx?ID=Nib2dgQujLA$
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Question: How can I find out what the rating is for a takeaway or other food business?

Answer: If a takeaway or other food business has been given a rating, you can search for it by following the link below.

When you eat out or shop for food, you might see a sticker in the window or on the door, showing you the hygiene rating for that business. Businesses are encouraged to display these stickers in a place where you can easily see them when you visit.

These stickers will also show the date the hygiene standards were inspected by the Council’s environmental health officer. If you don’t see the rating at a takeaway or other food business, you can ask a member of staff what rating was given at the last inspection or use the link below to find the rating.
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Question: Does a food business have to show its rating?

Answer: No. So if you see a business without a hygiene rating sticker, you’ll have to decide if you want to eat or buy food from there without knowing the hygiene standards.
Putting a hygiene rating on show is a good advertisement for businesses that meet the requirements of food hygiene law.
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Question: What is the food hygiene rating scheme for?

Answer: The scheme provides information on food hygiene to help you choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving you information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafés, takeaways, hotels and other places you eat, as well as supermarkets and other food shops.
The scheme also encourages businesses to improve hygiene standards.


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Question: How is a hygiene rating calculated?

Answer: An environmental health officer from the Council inspects a business to check that it meets the requirements of food hygiene law.

At the inspection, the officer will check:
• how hygienically the food is handled – how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored;
• the condition of the structure of the building – the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities;
• how the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe.

The hygiene standards found at the time of inspection are then rated on a scale. At the bottom of the scale is ‘0’ – this means urgent improvement is necessary. At the top of the scale is ‘5’ – this means the hygiene standards are very good.

The rating given shows how well the business does overall. The business may do better in some areas and less well in others and the rating takes this into account. This includes those areas that need improving the most. The officer will explain to the person who owns or manages the business what improvements need to be made and what action they can take to improve their hygiene rating.


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Question: How often will a restaurant or other food business be given a new rating?

Answer: A new rating is given each time the business is inspected by an environmental health officer from the Council.

How often inspections take place depends on the risk to people’s health. The greater the risk, the more often the business is inspected. Businesses can be inspected as frequently as every six months, to as infrequently as every three years, depending on the risk to the public.

If the business owner or manager makes improvements to hygiene standards after the planned inspection the business can ask the Council for a visit to be carried out before the date of the next planned inspection. This means these improvements can be checked and a new rating could be given.


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Question: What does the Council do to ensure ratings are issued fairly?

Answer: Food hygiene inspection rating consistency workshops have been held within the Isle of Wight Council and also with other local authorities to ensure that ratings are issued consistently between local authorities as well as between individual officers. If a business believes that the rating is unfair or wrong, they can appeal it in writing. The appeal form can be completed online by following the link below. Alternatively a form can be obtained from Environmental Health, Jubilee Stores, The Quay, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2EH. The completed form must reach the Environmental Health department within 14 days (including weekends and public holidays) of the date on which the business received its food hygiene rating. - Related Link

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Question: Why doesn’t the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme apply to businesses that process and supply food to other businesses?

Answer: Principally it is a consumer information tool, so ratings will be given to food outlets where customers can make a decision there and then about where to go and eat or to do their food shopping.

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Question: Why are there six tiers within the food hygiene rating scheme?

Answer: The decision about the best scheme for England, Wales and Northern Ireland was considered by the Food Standards Agency Board in December 2008, following a major public consultation. In opting for six tiers, the Board took account of all views, and also the aim to enable consumers to differentiate between the food hygiene standards at premises where they eat or buy food, and the aim to provide an incentive to businesses for continuous improvement. - Related Link

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Question: Who runs the food hygiene rating scheme?

Answer: The scheme is run by Councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in partnership with the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Councils are responsible for carrying out inspections of food businesses to check that they meet the requirements of food hygiene law. The FSA is the UK government department responsible for food safety. It gives Councils advice, training, and other support to help them run the scheme.


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Question: Why isn’t it mandatory for businesses to display their food hygiene rating score?

Answer: Mandatory display of the food hygiene rating would require new legislation so the Food Standards Agency is taking a voluntary approach at this stage, though this will be kept under review. The food hygiene rating scheme will be promoted both locally and nationally to consumers so that they can understand and use ratings in making their choices about where to eat out or shop for food. As they become familiar with the scheme, they will come to expect ratings to be displayed and draw their own conclusions where they are not. - Related Link

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Question: Why are businesses with poor food hygiene ratings not closed?

Answer: Businesses given ratings of ‘0’ or ‘1’ must make urgent or major improvements to hygiene standards. The environmental health officer will use a number of enforcement tools as well as giving advice and guidance to make sure these improvements are made.

If the officer finds that a business’s hygiene standards are very poor and there is an imminent risk to health – this means food is not safe to eat – the officer must take action to ensure that consumers are protected. This could mean prohibiting part of an operation or closing the business down.
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Question: What do the different Food Hygiene ratings mean?

Answer: The food hygiene rating reflects the hygiene standards found at the time of inspection by an environmental health officer.

The hygiene standards found at the time of inspection are rated on a scale. At the bottom of the scale is ‘0’ – this means urgent improvement is required. At the top of the scale is ‘5’ – this means the hygiene standards are very good.

A rating shows you how well the business is meeting the requirements of food hygiene law. It gives you an idea of what’s going on in the kitchen, or behind closed doors, so you can choose where you eat or buy food.

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Question: What has happened to the star rating formerly used to rate food hygiene

Answer: When the Isle of Wight Council switched to the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in March 2011, it adopted the common way of displaying ratings, which is a numerical scale between 0 meaning ‘Urgent Improvement Necessary’ and 5 meaning ‘Very Good’. The selection of numbers and descriptors was based on consumer research which took place in April of 2010 across the country. - Related Link

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Question: What types of food business are given a food hygiene rating?

Answer: Ratings are given to places where you can eat out such as restaurants, takeaways, cafés, sandwich shops, pubs and hotels. Ratings are also given to schools, hospitals and residential care homes.

Places where you shop for food, such as supermarkets, bakeries, and delicatessens, are also given a rating. However not all businesses in these groups are given a rating. This is because some businesses, for example a newsagent selling sweets, are a low risk to people’s health so are not included in the scheme. These businesses are said to be ‘exempt’ from the scheme.
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Question: What does ‘exempt’ from the food hygiene rating scheme mean?

Answer: The two groups of exempt businesses are:
• businesses that are a low-risk to people’s health in terms of food safety and that you perhaps wouldn’t normally think of as a food business – for example, newsagents, chemist shops or visitor centres selling tins of biscuits.
• childminders and businesses that offer caring services at home.

These types of business can ask the Isle of Wight Council for a food hygiene rating if they wish. Only details of those in the first group will be published on the Food Standards Agency’s website (which can be found by following the link below), but those in the second group can share their rating with parents and others using their services.
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Question: Under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme what does awaiting inspection mean?

Answer: If a new business has been set up, or there is a new owner, it will not have a food hygiene rating to begin with but it may display a sticker or certificate that says ‘awaiting inspection’. A rating will be given after an environmental health officer has inspected the business to check the hygiene standards. - Related Link

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Question: Do staff that handle food have to be trained in food hygiene?

Answer: Yes they do, but the extent to which they are trained depends on their duties and associated risks in the food business. It is advisable for most food handlers to be trained to at least foundation level. It may be possible for a suitably trained manager or head chef to carry out in-house training of food handlers themselves. - Related Link

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Question: I’m worried about the rating given to a food establishment where I’ve eaten and/or bought food. What should I do?'

Answer: A new rating is given each time the business is inspected by an environmental health officer from the Isle of Wight Council. How often inspections take place depends on the risk to people’s health. The greater the risk, the more often the business is inspected. The rating is based on the conditions identified at that the time of the inspection and the officer will undertake appropriate action to ensure compliance. If you are concerned that the rating does not reflect the hygiene standards of the business or have a complaint that you would like investigated then please contact the Environmental Health Department by following the link below. - Related Link

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Question: I have become ill after eating at a local restaurant - what should I do?

Answer: You should consult your G.P. as soon as possible so that your condition can be assessed. People often wrongly assume that the last meal eaten was the cause of their illness. In fact the most common form of food poisoning is caused by bacteria which can take between 2 and 10 days to show symptoms. This can make it very difficult to identify the food at fault unless a number of people have similar symptoms after eating food from the same source. It may also not be bacterial food poisoning, but viral-gastroenteritis which has similar symptoms. There are also many cases of food poisoning which originate in the home.

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Question: Do I need to register as a food business?

Answer: Registration applies to most types of food business and includes catering businesses run from your home address, food provided on a not-for-profit basis, selling food by mail order or on the internet, mobile catering and temporary event catering. Even though you may not be running a food ‘business’ in the traditional sense, if you supply food – whether given away free or sold – outside of the family / domestic setting, you may need to register with the Council. The only exemption is for the occasional serving of food where there is no element of continuity or organisation, for example, somebody who handles, prepares, stores or serves food occasionally on a small scale (e.g. a church, school or village fair), where the food is not supplied regularly (e.g. every month) you are not required to register.

Further information can be found here - https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/media/document/hall-provision.pdf
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