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Look before you book for Valentine's Day

Planning the perfect Valentine's Day date can be stressful, so the last thing you want to think about is whether or not the place you choose takes food hygiene seriously.

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The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme means you don't have to.

South Holland District Council in conjunction with The Food Standards Agency is urging you to look before you book and check the Food Hygiene Rating before deciding where to go on your special date.

The truth is, you can't tell a restaurant's hygiene standards by how clean and tidy the staff look or by how romantic the d├ęcor and ambience is.

It's the things you can't see - like germs spread by bad hygiene practices - that you need to consider. There's one easy way to set your mind at rest - check the Food Hygiene Rating.

This tells you about hygiene standards in restaurants and other food businesses.

It's really simple to check. Just go online to the Food Standard Agency's website: www.food.gov.uk/ratings or if you're out and about look for the green and black sticker; if you can't see one just ask the staff.

The ratings are determined by local authority food safety officers and range from 0 to 5, with a 5 rating meaning very good food hygiene standards.

In South Holland, over 98% of food businesses are rated a 3 or higher so there are plenty of places with good food hygiene standards, you can choose from. This means you can easily avoid taking your special date to those places not meeting the grade.

Cllr Anthony Casson, SHDC's Portfolio Holder for Food Safety, 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 for 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 South Holland to display their rating."

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