Thursday, 7 June 2018

Food Hygiene Ratings Guide



This is a guide to using the Food Hygiene Ratings UK Android app. The app looks up food hygiene ratings from the Food Standards Agency, www.food.gov.uk. If you do not have the app, click the link below from your phone/tablet:

 Food Hygiene Ratings on the Play Store

If you have an iPhone please visit the iPhone version of the guide

Home Screen



From the home screen you can perform a quick search for establishments by entering a name and place, then press SEARCH.

If you want to find establishments near to you press the FIND PLACES NEAR ME button.

From the menu top right, you can view this guide, go to settings, do an advanced search and see information about the app including a link to the privacy policy.


Quick Search


The quick search allows you to enter a name of an establishment and a place. You could just enter a name or a place on its own. Here enter 'cottage loaf' for the name and 'llandudno' for the place, press search on the keyboard or press the search button.

The app will send your query to the Food Standard Agency's web server and wait for a response which usually takes a few seconds but can take longer if busy. All data is live and up to date, no 
information is stored in the app. 


As you can see the Cottage Loaf scores a 5 (Very Good) and you can see a bit of the address, press the result to get more details.


Details




Pressing on a result shows more details about an establishment. You will see the appropriate Food Hygiene Rating icon which should be displayed on the premises, the establishment type and when the rating was awarded.

FSA Website


You can also view the establishment details directly on the FSA website, by clicking the button on the ratings card on the details screen.


Google Places


On the details screen scroll down to view more information cards.




The app will also look up the establishment up on Google Places, which may have photos, a telephone number and web site for the business.

Press the telephone number to call the business, press the web site to open a browser to view their website. If there is a photo, an attribution will be displayed in the bottom right hand corner, press this to view more of the photographer's images on Google Maps.

Sometimes the app will not be able to find any Google Places information, this is due to the FSA name of the place being different to that which is is listed under Google Places. If you are a business owner please check that your business name is correctly listed on the FSA database.




Scroll down the cards to see if the app has loaded any more photos


Scores



In the scores card there is a breakdown of the rating into scores for 3 categories: hygiene, structural and management, click MORE INFO for a brief description of the categories. These scores are like hazard points, so lower the score the better. The range of possible scores is 0-30 in steps of 5, with 0 the best and 30 the worst. You can find a more detailed explanation of the scores on page 35 of the FHRS guidance notes.


Details Map


Press the map button on the address card to view a map of the establishment.


The app will initially place a pin on the map based on the longitude/latitude data as returned from the FSA. However these geo-coordinates can be inaccurate, so the app will look up accurate geo-coordinates based on the address of the establishment and reposition the pin.

The map is fully interactive and you can zoom and move the map.

Note if the establishment has no address and no geo-coordinates, the app will not show the details map and pop up a notification instead.


Local Authority



On the local authority card you will see a contact email address and a web site address.
Pressing the SEND EMAIL button will open your email client, address it to the local authority and the body of the email will already be filled out with the establishment details.

If you are a business owner wishing to query any information, your local authority is the best place to start.



Near Me


The app can use the device's location to find establishments near to you. You will be asked to give the app permission to use location services.

On the home screen press the FIND PLACES NEAR ME button.



The app has found 432 establishments in my location of Llandudno. The results are grouped by business type, Takeaway/Sandwich Shop, Restaurant/Cafe, Pub/bar/nightclub etc.

Each establishment displays a coloured icon, a name, distance from your location and address. The icons have been designed for you to easily see poor ratings and good ratings.

Note that the default search radius is 1 mile, you can set this up to 10 miles in the app's settings.

There are quite a few results so the app allows you to filter your results to quickly find the place you're after.

Results Rating Filter



Open the menu (top right) to filter the results by rating. The results list will automatically update.


Results Text Filter



On the results screen press the search icon to search for text in the name and address of the establishment, the results will automatically be updated to show only those that contain the text you have entered.

You can search for text in the name only, go to the app's setting to set the appropriate Results Text Filter.

Settings


You can get to the settings screen from the home screen menu.

There are 5 settings:

  1. Search Radius (Near Me / Map) which specifies the search radius 1 to 10 miles
  2. Results Text Filter - search for text in the name and address or name only
  3. Search Timeout - set the time out when waiting for a response from the FSA server
  4. Enable Map Searches - check to enable map searches
  5. Show information from Google Places  - check to show Place info such as photos


Map Searches


Map searches are disabled by default, to enable them you will need to go into the settings screen and check the Enable Map Searches setting.

Nota Bene the longitude/latitude data for each establishment is inaccurate, this means that the establishments will not be pinned in the correct locations on the map. Worse, the pins will usually be stacked on top of each other. This is why map searches have been disabled by default, only perform map searches if you are comfortable with the pins not showing in the correct location.

Once enabled a green button will appear in the lower right corner of the home screen and results screen. Press this to open up a map.

Pure Map Searches




Press the green map button on the home screen to show a map of the UK.

Pinch zoom and move to St Ives and press the search icon in the menu bar top right. Touch a pin to show a pop out to see the name and rating of a place. Green pins are 5* rated, red 1* star. You can press a pop up to see the establishment details.

In practice you will find that pins are placed in the wrong location and usually stacked on top of other pins. I recommend that you only use pure map searches for establishments in villages, suburbs or small towns.


Results Map Searches



Press the green map button on the results screen, the results will be displayed on a map.


In practice it is best to try and filter the results to whittle them down, here I entered "chip" into the search filter to find Fish & Chip places in Llandudno, as most chippys usually have chip or fish in their names.

You can move the map and hit search again, to find places in a radius (specified in the settings) about the centre of the map. Note that any filters will be cleared, but you can press back to see a list of results, set up a new filter and press the map button again to see the filtered results.


Advanced Searched


The advanced search replicates the features you may have seen on the food hygiene ratings website.

Let us say you are looking for  4* and 5* rated pub on Anglesey.

From the home screen, press the menu (top-right) and select Advanced Search


Select the business type to be Pub/bar/nightclub.
Select Anglesey for the area
Select rating 4
Select comparison GreaterThanOrEqual.
Press the search menu icon top right

The app finds 72 establishments.


Scottish Rating System


The app is UK wide and supports establishments that have been rated with the Scottish Ratings System, eg Pass/Pass Plus/Improvement Required.




P+ icon represents Pass Eat Safe rating
P icon is a Pass
! icon is an Improvement Required.

Trouble Shooting


Connection Timeout


The FSA database is often slow at times, so you may need to increase the timeout setting from 30 seconds to a minute or more, see Settings.

Occasionally the BBC / ITV feature Food Hygiene Ratings on consumer affairs shows such as Rip Off Britain. Suddenly huge numbers of folk are using apps and websites to check out food hygiene ratings. This puts severe strain the FSA database and usually makes it unavailable. Problems can last for several days afterwards. Please do not complain about the app being slow or not working.

Different Rating


I often see comments saying that the app is out of date and that the scores on the door do not match. The app itself does not store any data, it fetches all data from the FSA. So if you see a business is displaying a different rating to the app, it's possible that the FSA database has not been updated.

The app allows you to send an email to the Local Authority where you can request clarification. 
Please:
  • Do not challenge the business about the rating (for your own safety!)
  • Do not leave a bad review on the app store about it (be nice)
  • Do not send me an email about the discrepancy (what can i do?)
  • Do consider sending an email to the local authority for clarification.

If you are a business owner and are concerned with the data shown, please contact your local authority to check the status and details of your inspection.


Establishment Not Listed


You type in the name and place and your favourite take-away is not found, one problem maybe that the place you have specified is not in the business address, so the app will not find the business. So try widening the address, eg change Westminster to London.

Another common problem is that the name of the establishment is different to what it is listed on the FSA database. Try part of the name to see if you can find the establishment. For example, a Fish & Chip shop near to me is listed as Riverside Fish Bar but its name now is Riverside Chippy.

Try finding the establishment on the FSA website, http://ratings.food.gov.uk/
If the establishment is found on the website, but not the app, please send me the name/address of the establishment so I can take a look.

Also bear in mind it may take several years for a business to be inspected, some local authorities have bigger back logs than others. So if a business is fairly new or has recently changed name, it may take time to have its rating listed on the FSA website.

If you are a business owner and cannot find your business, please contact your local authority to inquire about the status and details of your inspection.


Spurious Search Results


Search for Nando's and you will find also Lando's. The FSA database search algorithm is not so strict which is handy if you make spelling mistakes but can be frustrating if you are getting too many irrelevant matches. Fortunately the app is easy and quick to use, so browsing a huge list of results in combination with the filters, make it easier for you to find the establishment you are looking for.

Try the advanced search features to specify your search further, eg for The Swan at Stone, also specify the local authority area, eg Stafford, as there are lots of places called Stone.

Acknowledgements


All ratings information is provided by the Food Standards Agency, http://www.food.gov.uk
The app and this blog post are not affiliated and have not been endorsed by the FSA.

The app is free of charge and is ad funded. Ads are provided by Google Admob, the app will only display a banner along the bottom of the screen. 

Place information is provided by Google Places. See the apps privacy policy for more details.


Finally


Many thanks for using the app and I hope you use it every time you try a new place to eat or drink. It's also a good way of finding new places!

For any problems please send me an email via the feedback button on the About screen which you can access from the home screen menu.

To help keep updates coming, I'd be grateful if you could take the time to rate the app on the Play Store. Also spread the word, tell your friends about the app, you can do this easily by going to the About screen (menu option on the home screen) pressing the 'Email Friends' button which will share a link to the app via Facebook / Twitter (if you have the apps installed) or email.

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