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South Bucks District Council
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Look before you book this Valentine's Day

The 14th February, the most romantic date on the calendar and one of the most popular times for couples to go out for a meal. If you're thinking of taking your loved one out for something to eat on St Valentine's Day make sure you 'look before you book'.

Unfortunately you can't tell a restaurant's hygiene standards by how clean and tidy the staff appear or by how busy it looks. It's the things you can't see - like germs spread by bad hygiene practices - that you need to consider.

A food hygiene rating inspection checks all the things you can't see, so whether you're booking a table at a romantic restaurant, a cosy little café, or grabbing a takeaway to eat at home, make sure you put your mind at rest - check the food hygiene rating. It's really easy to check and only takes a couple of minutes. Just go online to the Food Standard Agency's website at www.food.gov.uk/ratings or if you're out and about look for the green and black door sticker, if you can't see it just ask a member of staff.

Food premises are given a rating from five (best) to zero (worst) by Environmental Health Officers at Chiltern District Council and South Bucks District Council's joint Environment Team who inspect eateries looking at various things including:

• how hygienically the food is handled - how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored;
• the condition of the structure of the building(s) - the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities; and
• how the business manages what it does to make sure food is safe and so that the Environmental Health Officer can be confident standards will be maintained in the future.

97% of food businesses in South Bucks are rated three or above so there are plenty of places to choose from, making it easy to avoid the ones not quite meeting the grade. Checking online means that you can make a better informed choice.

For further information on the scheme please visit the Environmental Health pages.