What is the food hygiene rating scheme?

banner for 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 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. 

All ratings are published on the FSA ratings website and can often be found on the premises door or window, however this is not a legal requirement in England. 

We also promote all businesses who get a rating of 5 on our department twitter account

What does the rating mean?

A business will be given one of the following ratings based on standards observed at the time of inspection:

What the scores mean
Score Meaning
5 Hygiene standards are very good
4 Hygiene standards are good
3 Hygiene standards are generally satisfactory
2 Some improvement is necessary
1 Major improvement is necessary
0 Urgent improvement is required

You can find out more information to help you understand the ratings.

What do we look for? 

The majority of inspections will be unannounced and the rating 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 - how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored
  • The physical condition of the business - including cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation, pest control and other facilities
  • How the business manages ways of keeping food safe, looking at processes, training and systems to ensure good hygiene is maintained. The officer can then assess the level of confidence in standards being maintained in the future. We suggest using the food safety management system safer food better business.

What if I don't agree with the rating? 

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

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.