What to Look for When Eating Out

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What to Look for When Eating Out

Here are some of the tell-tale clues you can look out for when choosing somewhere to eat out or buy a take away.

Positive signs

  • Clean public areas
  • Staff wash their hands regularly between different tasks (like handling raw meat and then ready-to-eat-foods or cleaning and clearing tables and then going on to serve ready-to-eat foods)
  • Hot food is served hot and cooked right the way through, unless it has been ordered otherwise.
  • Cold food is served cold
  • On a carvery, salad bar or delicatessen counter, dishes of food are not just topped-up, but the whole dish changed
  • If you can see into the kitchen as doors open or behind servery areas they are clean and reasonably tidy
  • Clean and smart looking staff who are dressed for the job

Warning signs

  • Overflowing waste bins and dirty or untidy rubbish areas
  • Dirty looking staff, with dirty hands or fingernails or dirty habits
  • Staff wearing dirty overalls, uniforms or aprons and long hair that is not tied back
  • Dirty toilets and wash-hand basins and a lack of soap and toilet paper
  • Dirty tables, cutlery, crockery and glassware
  • Hair, insects or other matter in the food
  • Food on sale past its 'use-by' date
  • Raw foods (especially raw meat) stored right next to cooked foods or the same utensils used for both.

It's best to base your judgement on a few of the above clues, but several of the warning signs spotted can represent poor management and sloppy hygiene standards.

Always check the Food Hygiene Rating

Remember that all food businesses that sell food direct to the final consumer are awarded a Food Hygiene Rating score of 0-5. Food businesses are encouraged to display their rating and are provided window stickers to do so. If you don't see a window sticker then you might want to ask yourself why. For more information on the scheme please visit our National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme - Information for Customers page

What you should do if you think that the hygiene standards aren't up to scratch

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