Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who manages the Scheme in Scotland?
Food Standards Agency in Scotland (FSAS) manages the Scheme. Local Authorities administer the Scheme.
The Food Hygiene Information Scheme Implementation Group advises the Food Standards Agency in Scotland on the ongoing development of the Scheme. The group consists of representatives of each of the following: The Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee, Trade and Industry representatives, Consumer Focus Scotland and the Scottish Food Advisory Committee.
2. How many tiers does the Award have?
The Eat Safe award has one tier with the intention of keeping the Scheme simple, easy to administer and of minimising possible impact on Local Authority Officer workloads
3. Which premises are eligible for inclusion in the Scheme?
Initially the Award was limited to catering operations to which the public has access.
However, from February 2010 the scheme scope has been expanded to be the same as the scope for the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS) and will remain anchored to this scope.
At the time of drafting this document the scope extends to establishments supplying food directly to consumers, this includes restaurants, cafes, takeaways, sandwich shops and other places that people eat food prepared outside the home, as well as food retailers.
4. When are eligible premises assessed for an Award?
Local Authority Officers assess food businesses against the set criteria during planned food hygiene inspections or re-visits.
5. What happens if premises request special inspections in order to obtain an Award?
Local Authorities are free locally to consider some special inspections if they choose to do so, including the option of bringing forward inspections. However, Local Authorities are not required to do this.
6. What standards have to be met to obtain an Award?
The Award criteria is set out in Appendix 1 (Scheme Criteria February 2010) attached at the bottom of this page.
7. To whom is the Award made?
In the case of:
(a) A Privately Owned Establishment - the Award is made to the proprietor.
(b) A Franchised Operation - the Award is made to the franchisee (but relating to the outlet in question).
(c) A Centrally Managed Chain - the Award is made to the proprietor and/or company (but relating to the outlet in question).
8. What should happen at subsequent re-assessments?
Re-assessment of food businesses for retention of the Eat Safe Award takes place again during planned food hygiene inspections. If the food business still meets the Eat Safe Award criteria the business retains the award.
9. Under what circumstances should the Award be withdrawn?
Local Authorities may withdraw Award certificates at any time if:
(a) The food business fails to meet the required criteria at the time of inspection.
(b) A visit to the premises for any reason e.g. sampling, complaint etc. reveals that the criteria are no longer met.
(c) There is, for any reason, a confirmed fall in standards (e.g. justified food poisoning investigation, enforcement action necessary, failure in Food Safety Management System/record keeping etc).
(d) The food business ceases to trade.
(e) The food business is taken over by a different proprietor/franchisee/ company.
10. What happens if a food business holding the Eat Safe Award changes hands?
Firstly, the existing Award must be withdrawn. If at the time of inspection, the new food business is found to comply with the Scheme criteria then an Eat Safe Award may be granted to the new proprietor/franchisee/company.
11. What is the life of an Award?
Certificates last from one planned food hygiene inspection to the next unless withdrawn by the Local Authority as indicated earlier. Certificates are undated and renewal consists of leaving the certificate in place if the Award criteria are still met at subsequent planned food hygiene inspections.
12. Is there an appeals procedure?
As Award criteria are clearly defined and made known to food business operators, it is considered that a formal appeals mechanism is unnecessary.
13. What if the Award certificate gets damaged?
If for some reason, a certificate gets damaged, then the Food Standards Agency in Scotland, via Local Authorities, will issue another copy of the certificate, provided the Local Authority accounts for the damaged certificate.
14. What ongoing publicity is there for the Scheme?
The Food Standards Agency in Scotland is targeting both food businesses and consumers via:
• Literature - leaflets have been produced and are available to Local Authorities for distribution.
• The Eat Safe Website – a list of Eat Safe awardees is available on the Eat Safe website along with downloadable versions of the leaflets.
• Publicity - The Food Standards Agency in Scotland works closely with Local Authorities and their Officers to ensure all media opportunities are maximised.
15. What are the training requirements of the award?
The training requirement criteria is that all food handlers must be supervised by a person holding either the elementary food hygiene certificate or, when higher-risk operations are carried out, the intermediate food hygiene certificate.
This is intended to continue to allow lower risk operations to require only that the supervisor has the elementary food hygiene certificate. In most food businesses there will be times of day when only such lower risk operations are carried out. However, the vast majority of food businesses would involve higher-risk operations during much of each day.
For very small businesses where no higher-risk operations are involved, the Agency considers that the training/supervision requirements combined with the existing requirements for a documented food safety management system could be significantly higher than the Food Hygiene Information Scheme ‘Pass’ level. In these circumstances the ‘Pass’ level would be based on the flexibilities permitted for such operations under EC guidance.
16. How can the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) training requirement of the criteria be met?
Training does not have to be achieved by sitting a formal training course. Where staff responsible for the development and maintenance of the HACCP based food safety management systems are coached on their relevant food safety management system, this requirement would be met by demonstrating that they fully understand the requirements and implement them in full.
17. Is there an alternative to sitting the Elementary Food Hygiene Certificate?
An assessment tool as a measure of competency and an alternative to sitting a formal exam has been developed and is currently being piloted. New businesses will have to satisfy the criteria through more established routes (examination results).
Once the assessment tool has been implemented, new businesses will have an alternate route to demonstrate that staff meet the standard. A timescale for reassessment of existing award holders against the new standard will be agreed once the assessment tool is available. New businesses will have to attain the new criteria, while existing businesses will have until the next planned inspection to attain the new criteria and be informed of the changes ahead of planned inspection.
18. What is the Food Hygiene Information Scheme?
The Food Hygiene Information Scheme is designed to provide consumers with information about hygiene standards at food premises and is being rolled out across Scotland. Each business is given a rating to reflect the standards found at the time of its statutory food hygiene inspection. This type of scheme is intended to allow consumers to clearly differentiate between businesses that meet legal requirements and those that have failed to meet these requirements. Legal requirements are established at European Community level and are given effect in Scotland by the Food Hygiene (Scotland) Regulations 2006 and separate but parallel legislation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Food Hygiene Information Scheme is voluntary for local authorities to operate and for businesses to display their ‘Inspection Outcome’ on the door of their establishment; however the web display is not voluntary.
19. How long has the Food Hygiene Information Scheme been running?
The demand for such a scheme was first recognised in Scotland by Consumer Focus Scotland in its paper 'Food Law Enforcement – A Study of the Views of Environmental Health and Food Safety Officers in Scotland’ (February 2004) as an important mechanism for informing consumer choice.
The Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS) was established in 2006 as a pilot Scores on the Doors project in Scotland in partnership with five volunteer Local Authorities. The project was overseen by a Steering Group that incorporated consumer, industry and enforcement representation. The pilot project ran from November 2006 to November 2008.
In December 2008 the Food Standards Agency Board recommended continuation of the Food Hygiene Information Scheme as the appropriate format for a scheme in Scotland. This recommendation acknowledged the prevailing views of stakeholders in Scotland received during the public consultation process.
20. Can the Eat Safe Award Scheme and the Food Hygiene Information Scheme operate together?
The Food Hygiene Information Scheme is entirely compatible with the Eat Safe Award scheme. The two schemes although separate, have operated concurrently without difficulty during the two-year Food Hygiene Information Scheme pilot.
The Food Hygiene Information Scheme is designed to rate hygiene standards against the legal requirements and is distinct from the Eat Safe Award scheme, which is designed to recognise businesses that have achieved standards over and above the legal requirements.
The Food Hygiene Information Scheme has two outcomes ‘Pass’ or ‘Improvement Required’. A ‘Pass’ indicates legal compliance and ‘Improvement Required’ indicates standards which fall short of legal compliance.
The Eat Safe Award provides businesses operators who wish to demonstrate a standard of excellence over and above legal requirements with the ideal opportunity to do so.
However, in keeping with the right of all businesses to a certificate in terms of the Food Hygiene Information Scheme, the Eat Safe Award does not prevent a business displaying both ‘Pass’ and an Eat Safe Award certificate should they wish or alternatively only an Eat Safe Award Certificate.