What is the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme?

The National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is designed to allow customers quickly and easily know what the standards of food hygiene are at any place they may choose to eat. It is operated by all Local Authorities covering the whole of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to a consistent standard set by the Food Standards Agency to ensure that wherever you see the distinctive rating signs you can be sure of the quality of the inspection. Scotland has its own similar scheme known as the Food Hygiene Information scheme.

Every rated business is visited by a Food Safety Officer from their local authority who complete a full food hygiene inspection. This inspection focuses on three areas:

Food Hygiene and Safety - This covers how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored.

Structural Compliance - Which includes the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities.

Confidence in Management - Which covers how the business manages what it does to make sure food is safe and so that the officer can be confident standards will be maintained in the future.

Based on the inspection of these three points a score from zero to five is given. To achieve a score of five, "Very Good" top scores in each of these areas is required, however it is possible for any business no matter its size to achieve this score, and you can be confident in the hygiene standards at any business which does so. A business ranked zero, "Urgent Improvement Required" will be subject to enforcement action by the local authority to bring standards up to the required standard.

If an immediate danger to the public’s health is discovered during an inspection, i.e. the food is unsafe to eat, then the officer will take immediate action to protect the public, this can include ordering the business closed until improvements are made.

Some businesses with a very low risk to the public, such as newsagents, chemists and gift shops selling tinned sweets are not included in the scheme, where this is the case a ranking of "Exempt" is given.

All rated businesses in Wales and Northern Ireland are required by law to display their ranking in a prominent position so that consumers can make an informed choice.

Last updated 16/10/2017