Food Hygiene Rating Scheme
What is the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme?
The scheme is a Food Standards Agency/local authority partnership initiative to provide consumers with at-a-glance information about hygiene standards in food businesses found during routine food hygiene inspections. It is a national scheme and is widely used by other councils. It is used to reflect the standard of food hygiene, not the quality of the food, at places to eat and where food is sold.
Under the scheme, each food outlet may display hygiene rating information on their door or window in the form of a window sticker or certificate.
Whilst it is not compulsory for hygiene ratings to be displayed, businesses are encouraged to display their stickers and certificates at their premises in a place where they can be easily seen by potential customers.
Where can I find the hygiene rating of a food business?
You can find the hygiene rating of a food business by searching the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme web site.
What type of businesses are included in the scheme?
Most food businesses that supply food directly to the consumer are included in the scheme including restaurants, shops, cafes, takeaways, delicatessens, supermarkets, care homes, hotels and pubs.
Are there any exemptions?
Some businesses are not included, for example child minders, as the business information includes personal information. These people will have the opportunity to opt into the scheme. Some premises selling only low risk food are also exempted, as are manufacturers who do not supply food directly to the consumer. These businesses are still included in the council's food hygiene inspection programme even though they may not be part of the hygiene rating scheme.
How are businesses rated?
Each business is given a hygiene rating when it is inspected by an Environmental Health Officer. The hygiene rating shows how closely the business is meeting the requirements of food hygiene law. Food hygiene inspections are generally carried out unannounced as to give a clear picture of how the business is run.
The officer inspecting a business checks how well the business is complying with the law by looking at:
- compliance with food hygiene and safety procedures - this includes how hygienically the food is handled - how it is prepared, cooked, cooled, stored and what measures are taken to prevent food being contaminated with bacteria
- compliance with structural requirements - this includes the condition of the structure of the premises, the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation, equipment and other facilities
- confidence in management control/procedures - this is how food safety is managed and recorded from day to day.
Following the inspection, the business is given one of the six ratings from 0 'Urgent Improvement Necessary' to 5 'Very Good'. Any business should be able to reach the top rating. The officer will explain to the person who owns or manages the business what improvements are needed and how they can achieve the top rating of 5.
For more detailed information about how the hygiene rating is calculated please see the PDF document ‘Food Hygiene Rating scheme - how your rating is calculated’.
Safeguards for food businesses
In order to ensure that the scheme is fair to businesses, it has been designed to include a number of safeguards. These are:
- an appeal procedure, where the business feels the hygiene rating given at the time of the inspection is incorrect
- a 'right to reply' for the business, for the business to say how they have improved hygiene, or to explain if there were unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection. A business’s right to reply will be published online
- an opportunity to request a re-visit when improvements have been made in order to be reassessed for a new hygiene rating.
If you are a business wanting to utilise any of the safeguards please read the 'Safeguards for business' document before completing and returning any of the forms (available via the Downloads area on this page).
Completed forms should be sent to The Food & Safety Unit at the postal address or email address on this page.
Good food hygiene is good for business
Customers are becoming increasingly aware of the food hygiene schemes and are actively looking for rating stickers when choosing where to eat out.
More food businesses are now displaying their hygiene rating stickers and a third of them say that this has resulted in greater customer confidence, better reputation among customers and, most importantly, more customers.
The Food Standards Agency have published a toolkit for businesses to use.
The rating does not reflect the quality of food or the standard of service provided to customers. The food hygiene rating scheme is not an endorsement of current standards but merely reflects the score we awarded a premises at the time of their inspection. Nevertheless, we try very hard to make sure the information available on these pages is correct. The food hygiene rating scheme adheres to the FSA's brand standard.
If you have any queries about the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme more information is available from the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme website or you can contact the Food & Safety Unit.