How to get a food hygiene rating for your home business & more

Many people in the UK have recently started their own food business at home or are currently thinking about it. Being your own boss, setting your own work hours and prices, and being creative in the kitchen – it is certainly an appealing prospect. Perhaps you are one of those people? It can feel a bit overwhelming to begin with as there are so many questions that spring to mind. Do I need to register my business? How do I get a food hygiene rating? What certificates do I need? How do I achieve a 5-star food rating? Hopefully, this article can help you with that.

Do I need to register my business?

Yes. UK food law requires that you register as self-employed, and register your business if you sell or give away food for free on a regular basis. This should be done at least 28 days before you open for business – and can be done in a matter of minutes, online. Your local authority will then arrange to visit your home for a food hygiene inspection. This will assess whether your food preparation areas and food safety protocols are up to standard.

What is a food hygiene rating?

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is put in place by the government in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Scotland follows a different, yet similar scheme which you can read about here. The Food Hygiene Scheme is very important, it’s a way to make sure that all food premises are preparing their products in sanitary, and safe conditions. This ultimately protects both the food business and its customers. Every business which sells food or drink should apply for a food hygiene rating score.

What are the 5 food hygiene ratings?

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.

Do I need a food hygiene rating score?

It is highly recommended that you apply for a food hygiene rating before opening your doors to customers. Applying for a food hygiene rating at home is similar to registering your business and can be done separately – you do so online and then your local authority will arrange an inspection.

Do I need to display my food hygiene rating by law?

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.

What countries have to display food hygiene ratings by law?

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.

Can I Appeal a Food Hygiene Rating of 1?

Yes, you can. Once you have received your food hygiene rating, you then have up to 14 days to appeal it. It is best to first speak to the officer who issued the rating to understand the reasoning behind the rating. Then you can write your appeal accordingly.

How can I increase my food hygiene rating?

If you have received a bad food hygiene rating and want to improve it then there are many ways in which to do so. You, and your employees (if you have them) need to knuckle down, and change the way you run things. Below you will find the areas which are assessed during a food hygiene rating inspection:

  • handling of food
  • how food is stored
  • how food is prepared
  • cleanliness of facilities
  • how food safety is managed

What food certificates do I need?

If you run or work in the food business, whether it be within your home food business, or away, you need to ensure that you and your staff are trained to an appropriate level in food hygiene. Although food hygiene training is expected – it is not a legal requirement to have a food hygiene certificate in the UK. However, there are many advantages to getting one. Having a food hygiene certificate promotes you as having a conscientious work ethic and gives you the knowledge to back up your experience and level of training – which would look great to prospective clients, customers, potential employers, and fellow staff. Instill confidence in yourself and others whilst learning and developing new and existing skills to help further your career.