Matt and Cat have sometimes had their attention drawn to alleged lapses of hygiene in the kitchen of this, that or the other establishment. It’s not generally something which makes its way into reviews, and for good reason: hearsay isn’t a reliable way to form an opinion on anything so serious.
Matt and Cat don’t inspect venues’ kitchens and probably wouldn’t know what to look for if they did. That’s why they have always been keen promoters of the Isle of Wight Council’s innovative ‘Scores on the Doors’ system since it launched in 2007 – with a link to the scheme website alongside every review. Those council types certainly do get to inspect the kitchens, and what’s more they know what to look for and they publish the results. Now it seems that the Island’s idea has caught on, and a similar scheme is being rolled out nationally. One of the first authorities to adopt the Food Standards Agency’s new national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme was, naturally enough, the Isle of Wight Council. And M&C were invited along to the launch event.
The FHRS scheme was officially launched at Brading Roman Villa in front of a sizeable crowd of folk representing top-rated businesses, plus dignitaries and the assembled press. A decent buffet lunch was provided by the host venue and M&C happily munched on Brie and mango filo parcels and millionaire’s shortbread, washed down with a nice cup of tea, while making small talk to their fellow attendees.
receives the café’s sticker from Cllr Barry Abraham
The FHRS rating will be issued to all types of businesses that supply food directly to consumers such as cafés, pubs, takeaways, restaurants and mobile caterers. The rating can be anywhere from zero to five, with zero meaning ‘urgent improvement necessary’ and five meaning ‘very good’. The ‘Scores on the Doors’ scheme operated on a similar basis. As part of the scheme, every outlet will receive a sticker indicating its rating based on its most recent food hygiene inspection. Although the business is not obliged to display its sticker, many will – and if they don’t, you might want to ask them why not!
As eagle-eyed readers will know, Matt and Cat’s own stickers also grace the doors of many of the Island’s eateries. These are given to all venues which M&C are happy to recommend and are based on their own subjective views of their experiences ‘front of house’. The FHRS rating is based on the activities behind the scenes, including how hygienically the food is handled, the condition of the structure of the buildings and how the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe. The scheme will be consistent across the country, making it a good advertisement for businesses that comply with food law whilst encouraging others to improve.
Although it is important, the food hygiene rating is not usually a factor in Matt and Cat’s reviews because even the cleanest and most highly-rated place might be the most uninspiring and serve bland food indifferently. The Isle of Wight County Press, covering the launch of the new scheme, drew out some of the more surprising low ratings – it’s certainly not always the places you’d imagine.
So now you can check Matt and Cat’s review in conjunction with the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme to get the best information about where you want to eat. Alongside this website’s reviews and its readers’ comments, the FHRS ratings will allow residents and visitors alike to make informed choices about to where to eat and buy food. Look out for the two green and black stickers!
Food Hygiene Rating Scheme Launch