The food hygiene rating reflects the hygiene standards found at the time the business is inspected by a food safety officer. These officers are specially trained and qualified to assess food hygiene standards. All businesses covered by the scheme will be given one of the following ratings:
0 Urgent improvement necessary
1 Major improvement necessary
2 Improvement necessary
3 Generally satisfactory
5 Very good
All businesses should be able achieve the top rating of 5.
The rating given shows how well the business is doing overall but also takes account of the element or elements most in need of improving and also the level of risk to people’s health that these issues pose. This is because some businesses will do well in some areas and less well in others but each of the three elements checked is essential for making sure that food hygiene standards meet requirements and the food served or sold to you is safe to eat.
To get the top rating of ‘5’, businesses must do well in all three elements. Those with ratings of ‘0’ are very likely to be performing poorly in all three elements and are likely to have a history of serious problems. There may, for example, be a lack of sufficient cleaning and disinfection, and the system of management in place may not be enough to ensure the food is always kept safe. Where a business does not achieve the top rating, the food safety officer will explain to the person that owns or manages the business what improvements are needed.
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme helps you choose where to eat out or shop for food. The scheme gives you information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafés, takeaways, hotels, and other places you like to go to eat out, as well as supermarkets and other food shops.
It’s not easy to judge hygiene standards on appearance alone so the rating gives you an idea of what’s going on in the kitchen, or behind closed doors. You can check the ratings and use the information to choose a place with higher standards. It’s also good to share this information with friends and family.
Providing information on hygiene standards in food outlets recognises those businesses with the highest standards and encourages others to improve. The overall aim is to reduce the number of cases of food poisoning which currently affects around one million people in the UK every year.
The scheme runs nationally which means people can make like-for-like comparisons with businesses in other areas. It also means businesses are treated consistently with local competitors and with their competitors more widely.
You can look up food hygiene ratings and find more information on the Food Standards Agency (external link) website.
Businesses are also given a window sticker showing their rating and are encouraged to display this at their premises in places where you can easily see them when you visit. In England, display is voluntary at the moment so not all businesses may have put their sticker up in the window or on the door but, if you don’t see it, you can ask them.
A new rating is given each time the business is inspected by the Council. The frequency of inspection is determined by the level of food safety risk at the last inspection.
If a new business has been set up or there is a new owner, it will not have a food hygiene rating to begin with but it may display a certificate that says ‘Awaiting Inspection’. A rating will only be given after a Food Safety Officer has inspected the business.