Everything you need to know about Food Hygiene Ratings

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is led by the government in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It is put in place to make sure that cafes, food stalls, restaurants, and most other food premises, are preparing food in sanitary, and safe conditions. Scotland follows a different scheme which you can read about here. Whether you are new to the food industry, preparing for your first food hygiene inspection, or trying to boost a past food hygiene rating – it proves to your consumers how serious you are about food hygiene practices.

How do I apply for a food hygiene rating?

You simply register online with your local authority. Then, authorised officers from your local council will inspect the premises and undertake a food hygiene inspection – thus, rendering a rating from 0-5. Achieving a 5-star rating should be the goal for all food premises, however, sometimes you don’t receive the rating you wanted or hoped for. Below you will find all the rating scores and what they mean, plus instructions on how to appeal a bad food hygiene rating.

What do food hygiene scores really mean?

Food Hygiene Rating 0 – This is the lowest score you can attain. It means improvement is urgent and needs to be carried out immediately. To receive this rating the organisation will have to obtain 50 points or more – the more points, the worse the rating when it comes to food hygiene scores.

Food Hygiene Rating 1 – Another low rating and one which will require improvements as soon as possible. 45-50 points will achieve a rating of 1. Changes will need to be made within the organisation.

Food Hygiene Rating 2 – Receiving this rating means that improvement is needed and just like the previous ratings, staff training is more than likely required, and perhaps an overhaul when it comes to equipment and processes. A score between 35-40 results in a food hygiene rating of 2.

Food Hygiene Rating 3 – A rating of 25-30 achieves a food hygiene rating of 3. This is the bare minimum and is thought of as a satisfactory score by some. Improvements are still recommended but not needed so urgently.

Food Hygiene Rating 4 – A score of 4 is achieved by attaining 20 points in the inspection. This is a great score to have and many businesses are proud to have it. It means they take food hygiene very seriously. That said, there is still room for improvement if the organisation wants to be even better.

Food Hygiene Rating 5 – Last, but certainly not least – what everybody wants to see! A hygiene rating of 5. To achieve this illustrious score you need to score between 0-15 points. This is what all food-handling businesses and organisations should be aiming for.

How do I appeal after receiving a bad food hygiene rating?

Before making any appeal it is advised that you contact your local authority food safety officer to find out why that particular rating was given. If you still disagree – and feel that the rating is unfair or wrong, you can take it further by appealing in writing to your local authority.

How long do I have to appeal a bad food hygiene rating?

You have 21 days to appeal a bad food hygiene rating. Once you submit an appeal, the lead officer will review your rating and consider your appeal. They will respond in writing within 21 days with their decision.

Do I have to display my food hygiene rating?

In the UK it is recommended that all food businesses display their food hygiene rating on their premises, in a clear and concise way. That said, some businesses choose not to do so, for one reason or another – leaving their score to the customer’s imagination. Although not advised, it is legal and all food hygiene ratings can be viewed online if a customer would like to look further.

Which countries have to legally display their food hygiene rating?

Food businesses in both Northern Ireland and Wales are required by law to display their Food Hygiene Rating score (FHRS) in a prominent place, such as the front door, entrance, or window of their premises. The displaying of the Food Hygiene Rating score became mandatory in Wales back in November of 2013 and in Northern Ireland, it was October 2016. In England, as mentioned previously, businesses are encouraged to follow suit, but not required by law to display their rating.

What about Scotland?

We have mentioned England, Northern Ireland, and Wales – what about Scotland? The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is led by the government only in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, they do things differently – their rating system is known as the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS). All food businesses in Scotland must have a food hygiene inspection, which is also undertaken by their Local Authority. Following this inspection, the food outlet will be awarded a Food Hygiene Information Scheme rating based on their inspection results. Displaying their score is not mandatory. You can read more about the Food Hygiene Information Scheme here.

How can I attain a Food Hygiene & Safety Certificate?

Whether you own a large food business company, a self-employed home business, or anything in between it’s very important that you take food hygiene and safety seriously. There are many ways in which you can do this and a Food Hygiene Rating is a great starting point. All food premises should also make sure that their employees are trained to the correct level when it comes to food hygiene and safety. Here at Essential Food Hygiene, we offer a plethora of different online courses which you can view here. Our high-quality courses are available at extremely competitive prices, and we offer discounts for bulk orders. All course content adheres to UK regulations and has been accredited by The CPD Group.