How the food hygiene rating scheme works

Each business covered by the food hygiene rating scheme is inspected during an ‘unannounced’ visit by an Environmental Health Officer, giving a clear picture of how the business is run. The hygiene rating they receive reflects how well the business meets food hygiene laws, with 0 indicating ‘Urgent Improvement Necessary' and 5 meaning 'Very Good'.

Businesses are judged on:

  • compliance with food hygiene and safety procedures, including how hygienically the food is handled, prepared, cooked, cooled and stored, and measures taken to prevent contamination with bacteria
  • compliance with structural requirements, including condition of the premises, the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation, equipment and other facilities
  • confidence in management control/procedures, looking at how food safety is managed and recorded each day

The Food Standards Agency has a list of current food business hygiene ratings and has published a toolkit for businesses to use in relation to the scheme. You can also see detailed information about how ratings are calculated.

Benefits of the food hygiene rating scheme

Since customers are increasingly aware of the food hygiene scheme and actively look for positive ratings when choosing where to eat, many food businesses display their hygiene rating on a window sticker. It’s proven that ‘good food hygiene is good for business’ as a third of them say this has resulted in greater customer confidence, better reputation and increased customer numbers.

Businesses that are unhappy with ratings

Any business should be able to reach the top rating and the inspector will explain to the owner or manager what improvements are needed and how they can improve.

To ensure that the scheme is fair to businesses, it includes a number of safeguards, such as:

  • an appeal procedure to follow if you feel the hygiene rating given at the time of your inspection is incorrect
  • a 'right to reply' (published online) which allows you to explain improved hygiene in your business, or any unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection
  • an opportunity to request a re-visit after you’ve made improvements, so that your business can be reassessed for a new hygiene rating.  Please note, we charge for this service.  Details of the current charge are given on the 'Request for a revisit' form below.

To utilise these safeguards read 'Safeguards for business' before completing and returning any forms:

Scheme disclaimer

The food hygiene rating does not reflect the quality of food or the standard of service provided to customers. It is not an endorsement of current standards but merely reflects the score we awarded premises at the time of their inspection. Nevertheless, we try very hard to make sure information is correct. The food hygiene rating scheme adheres to the FSA's brand standard.

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