What is the food hygiene rating scheme?
To help customers choose where to eat out or shop for food, we run the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) in partnership with the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The scheme provides information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, hotels, and other places people eat out, as well as supermarkets and other food shops, at the time they are inspected by the council.
It's not easy to judge hygiene standards on appearance alone so the rating gives customers an idea of what's going on in the kitchen, or behind closed doors.
Eating out? Getting food in?
Which businesses are given a rating?
Restaurants, takeaways, cafes, sandwich shops, pubs, hotels, supermarkets and other retail food outlets, as well as other businesses where consumers can eat or buy food, will be given a hygiene rating as part of the scheme.
A business is given one of these ratings:
- 5 - very good
- 4 - good
- 3 - generally satisfactory
- 2 - improvement necessary
- 1 - major improvement necessary
- 0 - urgent improvement necessary
How is the rating calculated?
Each business is given a rating following an inspection by an officer from the food safety team. This is based on how well the business is meeting the requirements of food hygiene law at that time. In particular:
- how hygienically the food is handled - safe food preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage
- the condition of the structure of the premises - cleanliness, repair, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities
- how food safety is managed and documented - using a system such as Safer Food Better Business
The rating reflects the conditions found at the time of the last inspection and does not reflect the quality of food or the standards of service the business provides.
Making sure the scheme is fair
To ensure that the scheme is fair to businesses, it has been designed to include a number of safeguards. These are:
- Right to appeal: If you think your hygiene rating is wrong, in other words it does not reflect the hygiene standards found at the time of your inspection, you can lodge an appeal with the council within 21 days (including weekends and bank holiday) of being told what your hygiene rating is
- Right to reply: If you have improved hygiene standards since your last inspection, or if there were unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection and you want to explain this to your customers, you can tell us. We will publish your comments alongside your rating at food.gov.uk/ratings
- Request a re-visit: If you make the improvements to hygiene standards that the food safety officer told you about at your last inspection, you can request a re-visit
Displaying your rating is good for business
It's what customers look for - FSA research has shown that people are becoming more aware of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and are actively looking for hygiene rating stickers when they are out and about.
There's a profit to be made - an increasing number of food businesses are displaying their hygiene rating stickers and more than a third of them say that this is having a positive impact. This includes greater customer confidence, better reputation among customers and, most importantly, more customers.
The FSA provide a food hygiene rating scheme toolkit for businesses which gives you ideas and inspiration on how to publicise your food hygiene rating online and offline.
Frequently asked questions
The FSA have a list of frequently asked questions on the scheme.