Historically, the first of April is not only April Fools Day, but also the first day of the new financial year. For all restaurants and cafés, hotels and pubs, in fact anywhere that serves food in London, this year will hail the beginning of a new initiative by the FSA, and we’re not talking by the Financial Standards Authority, rather the Food Standards Agency.
As anyone in the food industry who has learnt their trade via an official cookery course will attest, before you even put on an oven glove, you need to learn the strictest of regulations about learning to store, prepare, cook and serve food to the public. I obtained my Basic Hygiene Certificate through Leicester University – albeit indirectly through Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries – so that before I even learnt about particular Banks’s menus, I was fully aware of the science behind food hygiene.
The ‘Food Hygiene Rating Scheme’ that the FSA is launching in the capital will set a national standard, whereby anyone from around the country can enter a commercial premises, be it a cookery school, haute cuisine establishment or transport café, and ascertain that relevant food safety standards are being adhered to.
The new initiative, which replaces the ‘Scores on the Doors’ existing method, is a drive to cut down on the one million people who suffer from food poisoning every year in the UK (never knew my missus could reach that many!), bringing awareness to a larger section of the populace than currently have access to such critical safety guidelines.
So determined are the FSA to ensure that all businesses can incorporate the system, they are paying for the switch over to the new Food Hygiene Rating System across the Square Mile and are even setting aside a bespoke page on their website purely to service the endeavour.
Rather than rest on any laurels, it is hoped that all businesses who take part, from those that learn people to cook to established food industry businesses, will actively display their qualified status under the new scheme, once it has been earned and verified.
Once UK citizens start to recognise the new insignia, it is hoped that many unfamiliar or localised brands can gain national recognition, now that the standard covers a nationwide skills base, with all regions driving towards the same aim. There are often more reasons to attend a registered cookery course than just learning to cook – earning a nationally registered certificate of expertise and knowledge of general food hygiene is just one of the hidden benefits anyone considering a career in food should consider.