Could you be at risk of food poisoning on Valentine’s Day?

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People heading out for a meal this weekend are being urged to check food hygiene ratings before booking a restaurant for Valentine’s Day.

The last thing anyone wants to think about before an important dinner date is whether or not their restaurant takes food hygiene seriously.

Food Standards Agency EMN-151202-102253001

Food Standards Agency EMN-151202-102253001

But getting it wrong can result in a greater risk of food poisoning, according to the Food Standards Agency and Mid Sussex District Council.

Catriona Stewart, head of the Food Hygiene Ratings Team at the Food Standards Agency, said: “On Valentine’s Day people are focused on making sure that special lunch or dinner goes well and that they make a good impression with their date.

“We want them to factor in the food hygiene rating when deciding where to go and then enjoy their romantic meal out.”

A spokesman for Mid Sussex District Council said: “The truth is, customers can’t tell how good a restaurant’s hygiene standards are by how clean and tidy the staff look or by how romantic the décor and ambience is. Hidden factors – like germs spread by bad hygiene practices – are the most important things to consider.

“The Food Hygiene Rating System is here to help. Local authority food safety inspectors visit local food outlets and give them a food hygiene score of between 0 and 5, where 0 is poor and 5 is very good.

“A score of 3 or more shows the business meets the basic food hygiene standard and 91 per cent of Mid Sussex food businesses are rated as 3 or better.”

Just go online and check the Food Standards Agency website at www.food.gov.uk/ratings or look for the green and black sticker on the premises.

If a sticker is not displayed, just ask a member of staff about their rating.

Councillor Christopher Snowling, Mid Sussex District Council cabinet member for health and community said: “When planning your special meal out, make sure you check the hygiene ratings online and choose a restaurant that takes food hygiene seriously. This is also an important time or local food businesses, as a good food hygiene rating is something to be proud of. It matters to customers so we are encouraging all businesses in Mid Sussex to display their rating.”

Find out more at www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/caterers/hygieneratings