What is a Food Hygiene Rating?

Hands up those of you who check out a restaurant’s Food Hygiene Rating (FHR) before choosing to dine there.

Now keep your hand up if you actually know what that Rating means?

If you do, well done, you’ve done your homework.  For those of you who might not realise the science behind the FHR, we will explain.

Firstly, the FHR has absolutely nothing to do with the taste of the food you are about to receive.  Nor does it ensure you sit on a comfortable chair in sumptuous surroundings.  We can’t even guarantee you won’t be served by Manuel from Fawlty Towers.  Disappointed?  Don’t be.  Your safety is of paramount importance.

It is a business’ responsibility to comply with food hygiene laws at all times.  However, just having that responsibility may not be enough.  It is therefore comforting to know that they are inspected from time to time and the results of these inspections determine what FHR they receive.  Your decision to spend your hard-earned money with that business may be influenced by their FHR because the higher the rating, the more compliant they are with the law, which means you can rest assured they have your health and safety covered.

These businesses will include but are not limited to:

  • Restaurants
  • Shops serving food (some may be exempt, if for example, they only sell prewrapped non-chilled food)
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Supermarkets
  • Mobile catering units

Who Inspects the Business?

A business will be visited by a Food Safety Officer (FSO) from their Local Authority.  The inspection will cover three main areas:

  • All aspects of food hygiene, including storage, preparation, cooking, cooling and shelf life.
  • General cleanliness and maintenance of the premises.  This encompasses pest control, lighting/ventilation and equipment.
  • Paperwork, training and systems in place to ensure high standards are continually maintained.

Businesses need to perform well in each of the above categories in order to achieve a high FHR.

You will generally see the ratings sticker in the front window of the business, although it’s always worth checking on your Local Authority website to make sure the FHR you see is up to date.  It is not a legal obligation in England to display this information, although Wales and Northern Ireland are obliged to do so.

How Often Do These Inspections Take Place?

Inspections generally take place approximately every 2 years, although they can be more frequent, depending on the type of business as some businesses will carry a higher food risk than others.  The FSO will also follow up any complaints or information about businesses and carry out impromptu inspections, so it is in a business’ best interest to maintain high standards at all times.

What Score Should I Be Looking For?

The ratings are between 0 and 5, as follows:

5 – hygiene standards are very good and fully comply with the law

4 – hygiene standards are good

3 – hygiene standards are generally satisfactory

2 – some improvement is necessary

1 – major improvement is necessary

0 – urgent improvement is required

The FSO will monitor any business with a low score and take any measures necessary, which could even mean closing the establishment until adequate improvements have been made.

If your favourite restaurant has been awarded a low rating – don’t despair!  Take a look on the website.  More information is shown, which may explain why they scored badly.

Food Hygiene Matters Ltd Can Help Your Business

Food Hygiene Matters Ltd have successfully helped many businesses, large and small, improve their FHR. 

If you are a business and would like to improve/maintain your current score or would even just like some advice or training, please contact us on info@foodhygienematters.co.uk  or call us on 01268 754594 and we will be happy to talk with you.

We also work with new businesses to help you achieve your first Food Hygiene Rating.

Food Hygiene Matters Ltd