Andrew Fairlie is the owner of the only two Michelin star restaurant in Scotland. He believes that the Food Star Authority, or FSA, should change its guidelines. Fairlie has stated that the FSA’s guidelines have made it very difficult for restaurants. Fairlie’s restaurant underwent a five hour inspection recently. He has stated that he understands why restaurant inspections are very important, but he believes that the amount of time his restaurant was inspected was ridiculous.
Fairlie has had to hire a consultant in order to meet the requirements set by the FSA. The restaurant is located in Gleneagles Hotel. Last year, the restaurant did not receive a passing grade from the FSA because of one of the staff members did not wash their hands the correct way.
Fairlie stated that every staff member lined up and washed their hands for the minimum one minute and 30 seconds required during last year’s inspection. However, the restaurant will fail automatically if a person puts soap on their hands before they turn on the water. That is what happened during the inspection at Fairlie’s restaurant, and they failed as the result of it.
Fortunately, the restaurant received another inspection in December 2014 and received an A+ grade from the FSA. Tom Kitchin, who is another chef, agrees that the FSA’s guidelines should be a little more lax. He has a one Michelin star restaurant. He has stated that the inspectors sometimes show up at random times, such as the middle of lunch. The restaurant staff members do not have any time to prepare for the inspection, and they are forced to stop everything that they are doing.
Kitchin stated that he is disappointed in the FSA because chefs like him and Fairlie have received training from mentors in the food industry. He has stated that cleanliness is expected of chefs, and they want to abide by the guidelines that are set by the Food Standards Authority. However, he believes that many of the inspectors are overzealous. He compared some of the restaurant inspectors to parking inspectors who aim to make other people miserable.
Tony Borthwick is the head chef and owner of Plumed Horse. He also agrees that the Food Standard Authority’s guidelines are ridiculous and need to be revised. He has stated that checks the temperature of the fridge several times throughout the day as recommended by the FSA. However, he sometimes does not have the time to write down the refrigerator’s temperature every time that he checks it. Borthwick has stated that this simple mistake makes him a bad chef in the eyes of an inspector.
Borthwick also does not like the fact that inspectors can pretty much show up any time that they like. He has also stated that inspectors have showed up in the middle of lunch services. Borthwick works hard to make sure that everything in the restaurant runs smoothly. However, he has found that the inspectors make it extremely difficult. He also says some of the inspectors have a sheriff-like attitude.
Hugh Pennington is a professor at University of Aberdeen. Although he is not in the food industry, he agrees with the chefs. He believes it is sad that chefs are complaining. The FSA is supposed to be helping chefs, but the organization is hurting them instead.
Pennington has also stated that the fact that more than one chef is complaining shows that there is something seriously wrong with the inspections. Good inspectors are willing to work with the chefs and advise them. They do not try to prosecute the chefs.
The Food Standards Authority in Scotland has set their own standards regarding food safety. However, its guidelines are very similar to the ones in England and Wales. The local authority staff carries out the hygiene inspections.
A spokeswoman for the Food Standards Authority has stated that the inspection of hygiene controls at restaurants is governed by a code of practice on food law enforcement. The local authority enforcement’s practices are reported and audited by the FSA on a regular basis. The spokeswoman also stated that Scotland’s Food Standards Authority is actively engaged with the Scottish food industry and local food authorities. She says that the FSA is not aware of this issue.