How are Food Hygiene Ratings Calculated

The time has come and your local Authority has send around an Inspector to rate your food hygiene standards. But what is he actually looking for and how is it scored?

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and The Food Hygiene Information Scheme scores are based on three factors as seen on the day.

  • Food Hygiene and Safety – This covers what they see of the preparation of food, how it is stored and reheated for serving.
  • Structural Compliance – This covers all of the physical areas of food production. Is the building safe with sufficient lighting, ventilation and cleanliness standards? Is there any evidence of pest infestations etc?
  • Confidence in Management – This mainly covers evidencing, that you keep correct records and can prove that you follow safe procedures even when the inspector is not present. They will be looking for evidence of HACCP systems, temperature checks, staff training records and maintaining the cold chain on deliveries.

Each of these three factors count equally towards your score so you must pay them all equal attention. Below we cover how each section is scored.

When you receive your score it will be broken down into an overall score and then three sub scores, one for each of these areas.

How does the scheme work?

The scoring scheme is laid out in The “Food Law Code of Practice”. For each section you are given one of six scores depending on your compliance level. These scores are then totalled to give your rating score.

  Score
0 5 10 15 20 25
0 5 10 15 20 25
0 5 10 20 30

With this system a higher score indicates a worse level of compliance, the goal is to achieve as few points as possible.

Food hygiene and Safety and Structural Compliance

The scoring for Food hygiene and Safety and Structural Compliance is exactly the same,    

  • A score of 25 points indicates “Almost total non-compliance”
  • A score of 20 points indicates a “General failure to satisfy legal requirements, with generally low standards”.
  • A score of 15 points indicates “Some major non-compliance with legal requirements with more effort required to prevent a fall in standards.”
  • A score of 10 points indicates “Some non-compliance with legal requirements and industry codes of practice with standards being maintained or improved.”
  • A score of 5 points indicates a “High standard of compliance with legal requirements and industry codes of practice with some minor contraventions or non-compliance.
  • A score of 0 points indicates a “High standard of compliance with legal requirements and codes of practice.

As you can see from this the score on these two sections is very much based on how they find things during the visit, you can be 100% compliance 99% of the time but if you just happen not to be for the 30 minutes the inspector is there you will score highly. It is also worth noting that if a single issue is falls into both categories, that is both structural and Hygiene related, you will score highly in both.

Confidence in Management

Confidence in Management however is about convincing the inspector that you have been compliant in the past and will continue to be in the future. In practice this often means having paperwork in place to show that you do everything. A sparkling clean kitchen will score well on Hygiene but you need cleaning records to score well here. 

The points breakdown for confidence in management is    

  • A score of 30 points indicates a “Poor track record of compliance, with little or no knowledge or appreciation of hazards or quality control or no Food Safety Management System.”
  • A score of 20 points indicates a “varying record of compliance with a poor appreciation of hazards and control measures with no Food Safety Management System.”
  • A score of 10 points indicates a “Satisfactory record of compliance with a satisfactorily documented Food Safety Management System.”
  • A score of 5 indicates a “Reasonable record of compliance with a satisfactorily documented Food Safety Management System.”
  • A score of 0 indicates a “Good record of compliance with a satisfactorily documented Food Safety Management System built using Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points.” (There is some flexibility in this under by Article 5 of Regulation (EC) 852/2004 where a business could so small as not to need to use HACCP but in practice it is better to do so anyway as the inspector may not agree that you qualify.”)

As you can imagine, the part where businesses often fall down in this section is when inspections happen whilst the staff member who deals with these records is away. You should always have someone on site who can confidently explain your procedures and produce the records to back them up or the inspector will have to assume such records don’t exist. 

The perceived attitude of management during the inspection is specifically mentioned as a factor that can affect the score along with company track record and how any previous advice was dealt with, so give the inspector your full attention and show that you do consider food safety important. It will affect your score.

Calculating your score

Your total score from the above three categories will give your final rating, however there are also limits on the maximum points you can receive from each section score which affect your final rank, so whilst 20 points  in total would normally get you a rating of four, there is a maximum individual score of ten set on that rank. 

So if you scored ten points for Hygiene and Structure and zero in Confidence in management you would get a total rating of four.

However if you scored 15 points in Hygiene and five in Structure you would get a rating of three. 

  Total Score to FHRS Rating Matrix
0 - 15 20 25 - 30 35 - 40 45 - 50 50+
5 10 10 15 20 -
0 5 10 20 30
5 4 3 2 1 0
Very Good Good Generally Satisfactory Improvement Necessary Major Improvement Necessary Urgent Improvement Necessary

Act on your rating

As you can see the rating system is not as complicated as many believe once you understand the core mechanics behind it. Keep your site clean, your structure sound, your staff knowledgeable and your paper work in order and you can see a big increase in your rating.

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