If you eat out or shop for food in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. You may have noticed the food hygiene rating scheme (fhrs) that gives a 0 to 5 rating. In Scotland you will see the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (fhis) that just has Pass, Improvement required, exempt or awaiting inspection.
Food businesses in England do not have to display their rating at their premises but are encouraged to do so.
In Wales and Northern Ireland food businesses must display their ratings in a prominent place, such as the front door, entrance or shop window. All Welsh and Northern Irish businesses must also provide verbal information on their rating if requested in person or over the phone.
In Scotland food businesses are asked to display a certificate (and/or sticker) on the door or window of their premises. Stating if they have passed their hygiene inspection, whether improvement is required, awaiting inspection or exempt.
If you want to find out a food hygiene rating without visiting the premises or contacting them directly then this is very easily done. Just use this link, you enter the business name and the street, town or post code. It will then tell you the current food hygiene rating for the business, it works for Scotland as well.
If you want a detailed report on how the ratings were calculated and to see the Health Officers detailed report. Then you can make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the local authority that carried out the inspection.
The local authority will consider your FOI request and will usually send you a copy of the report. In some cases, the local authority may decide that they cannot do so but will let you know this and explain why. Any concerns relating to a business's food safety can be reported to the local food safety team who are responsible for the business. You can find the local authority’s contact details by searching for the business and then clicking on the name of the business.
All food businesses in the UK must register themselves with their local authorities. Failure to do so can lead to large fines, jail sentences and the business being closed down. After registration the local authority food safety officer, from the environmental health department, will visit the business and carry out an inspection.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a food hygiene rating based on a 6 point score of 0 to 5 is then given:
In Scotland the local authority will give one of the following ratings:
It is important to remember that ratings are a snapshot of the standards of food hygiene found at the time of inspection. It is the responsibility of the business to comply with food hygiene law at all times not just at inspection.
Each business covered by the food hygiene rating scheme is inspected during an ‘unannounced’ visit by an Environmental Health Officer. The visit will inspect and assess:
The food hygiene rating scheme does not provide information on the following factors:
The Environmental Health Officer uses a set procedure to calculate a food hygiene rating. Using the Food Law Code of Practice as a guide, three categories are examined:
Categories 1 and 2 are scored from 25 (very poor) to 0 (perfect) but category 3 is scored from 30 (very poor) to 0 (perfect).
The scores from each category are added together to then give a food hygiene rating:
Where a category score exceeds the maximum allowed for that particular rating. Then the rating falls to the maximum level at which that category score is allowed. For example, a category score of 15 in any of the three categories would result in a rating of 2. Even if the overall total was 15.
Anybody who has completed our level 2 food hygiene and safety course for catering will probably understand everything needed to get a 5 star rating.
A new rating is given every time a local authority food safety officer inspects a food business.
Local authorities plan a programme of inspections every year. The frequency of inspections depends on the potential risk to public health, this will include the following factors:
Obviously higher risk businesses are inspected more often than lower risk. An example of a low risk business is a small retailer selling a range of prepacked foods that only need to be refrigerated.
The time between inspections varies from six months for the highest risk businesses to two years for lower risk businesses. For some very low risk businesses, the interval between inspections may be longer than two years. There are circumstances where this schedule can vary.
Local authorities can and do monitor businesses in other ways to ensure they are maintaining hygiene standards. If these checks show that hygiene standards may have deteriorated, the officer will carry out an inspection and the business will get a new rating.
If the local authority receives a complaint or new information about a business not due for inspection, and this suggests hygiene standards have fallen. The local authority will investigate and may inspect the business and give it a new hygiene rating.
Using the information given by the business when it registered the following points are allocated.
Type of Food and Method of Handling
Method of Processing
Consumers at Risk
22 points are added if there will be more than 20 persons in a vulnerable group e.g. elderly people, young children, the sick / immuno-compromised. The points are tallied up and then a frequency of inspection of food business premises is drawn up as follows:
The best way for any registered food business to remain complaint is to have fully trained staff. Online food safety courses are a very cost efficient way of doing this.