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Information for food businesses

What are the different ratings?

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
4   Good
5   Very good

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 is safe to eat.

What does a business need to do to get the top food hygiene rating?

All businesses should be able to get the top rating. To get this, you must be able to demonstrate very good compliance with legal requirements for food hygiene. The level of compliance will be assessed by the food safety officer when your business is inspected.

To make your rating work for your business, make sure you display your rating sticker and put it in a place where your customers can easily see it. This immediately reassures them that your business takes food hygiene seriously and can increase customer confidence as well as improve your reputation, which can lead to more customers.

The Food Standards Agency has produced some straightforward and cost effective tips to help you get the most out of your hygiene rating. This includes downloadable images of your rating that can be easily included in menus, promotional materials and on your website. This can be found on the Food Standard Agency (external link) website.

How is the rating assessed?

Your food hygiene rating is based on the level of compliance in three areas:

  • 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 you manage what you do to make sure food is safe and so that the officer can be confident standards will be maintained in the future

How can a business demonstrate that food is handled hygienically?

You can do this by showing, for example, that:

  • there are high standards of personal hygiene of staff – for example, clean over clothing (such as aprons), appropriate headwear, minimal jewellery and regular and appropriate hand-washing
  • control measures are in place to prevent cross contamination – for example, use of separate areas and equipment for handling and preparing raw and cooked foods, and correct use of appropriate cleaning chemicals
  • foods are stored at the correct temperature – for example, food stored in fridges is maintained at less than 8°C and that the chill chain is protected
  • foods are properly cooked, re-heated and cooled – for example, foods are cooked to 75°C or hotter and are checked visually for signs of thorough cooking, and foods are cooled quickly to 8°C or below and kept at a safe temperature until used

What about the condition and structure of the premises?

There should, for example, be:

  • a suitable structure which is clean and in good repair throughout the premises
  • adequate natural/artificial lighting and ventilation
  • adequate proofing against pest entry
  • adequate facilities including: wash basins, toilet(s) and, where necessary, sink(s)

What about how the business manages and documents what it does to make sure food is safe?

It is a legal requirement for most food businesses to provide documentary evidence that the food they produce is safe. This should:

  • identify and show an understanding of the food safety hazards (microbiological, physical and chemical) within the business
  • provide evidence that measures have been taken to effectively control these hazards and that these measures are reviewed as appropriate
  • provide evidence that all food handlers are supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters in order that they produce food that is safe to eat

"Safer food better business" is a system produced by the Food Standards Agency to help businesses create a documented food safety management system. More information on can be found on the Food Standard Agency (external link) website.

You are advised to discuss what is suitable for your business with one of our food safety officers

How can consumers find out what rating a food business achieves?

Consumers can view the rating awarded to a business on the Food Standards Agency (external link) website.

Each business will be given a certificate that states their rating, which they will be encouraged to display to customers. The display of the certificate is voluntary; however, as the general public become more aware of the scheme, if they don’t see a certificate they may ask ‘why’?

How often will a food business be given a new rating?

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.

Requesting another inspection

If you make improvements to hygiene standards, you can request an additional visit in advance of the next planned inspection. However, there are limitations to such requests which are explained in the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme Request for Re-Inspection / Revisit Procedure (PDF 40kb). To request another inspection, you should download the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme Request for a Re-visit Form (PDF 108kb) and complete and return it to the address shown at the bottom of the form.

More information