Good food hygiene is easier to spot
A good food hygiene rating can help you keep your customers.
What does a business need to do to get the top food hygiene rating?
All business should be able to get the top rating - to get this, you must be able to demonstrate very good compliance with legal requirements for food hygiene.
The level of compliance will be assessed by the food safety officer when your business is inspected.
How is this assessed?
Your food hygiene rating is based on the level of compliance in three areas:
- How hygienically the food is handled - safe food preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage.
- The condition of the structure of the premises - cleanliness, repair, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities.
- How you manage what you do to make sure food is safe and so that the officer can be confident standards will be maintained in the future.
How can a business demonstrate that food is handled hygienically?
You can do this by showing, for example, that:
- there are high standards of personal hygiene of staff - for example, clean over clothing (such as aprons), appropriate headwear, minimal jewellery and regular and appropriate hand-washing
- control measures are in place to prevent cross contamination - for example, use of separate areas and equipment for handling and preparing raw and cooked foods, and correct use of appropriate cleaning chemicals
- foods are stored at the correct temperature - for example, food stored in fridges is maintained at less than 8 degrees Celsius and that the chill chain is protected
- foods are properly cooked, re-heated and cooled - for example, foods are cooked to 75 degrees Celsius or hotter and are checked visually for signs of thorough cooking, and foods are cooled quickly to 8 degrees Celsius or below and kept at a safe temperature until used
What about the condition and structure of the premises?
There should, for example, be:
- a suitable structure which is clean and in good repair throughout the premises
- adequate natural/artificial lighting and ventilation
- adequate proofing against pest entry
- adequate facilities including wash basins, toilet(s) and, where necessary, sink(s)
What about how the business manages and documents what it does to make sure food is safe?
It is a legal requirement for most food businesses to provide documentary evidence that the food they produce is safe. This should:
- identify and show an understanding of the food safety hazards (microbiological, physical and chemical) within the business
- provide evidence that measures have been taken to effectively control these hazards and that these measures are reviewed as appropriate
- provide evidence that all food handlers are supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters in order that they produce food that is safe to eat
We provide a nationally recognised environmental health training course in food safety. Find out more, check course dates or book online.
The Food Standards Agency has produced systems to help create a documented food safety management system called Safer Food Better Business (SFBB). You are also able to purchase a hard copies directly from us.
SFBB systems are suitable for many types of food business but not all. You are advised to discuss what is suitable for your business with one of our food safety officers.
How can a business improve its rating?
All businesses should be able to get the top rating.
To help get this you should:
- look at your last food hygiene inspection report to check that you've taken all of the actions needed to meet legal requirements - if you can't find your last report, contact us using the contact details on this page and we will be able to give you a copy
- continue making regular routine checks to ensure hygiene standards are being maintained and staff understand and are following the rules, and promptly arrange for any repairs or maintenance of the premises or equipment
- ensure your documented food safety management system is kept up to date and all necessary records and checks completed and recorded
- at your next inspection, if you don't get the top rating and you have queries about the improvements you need to make to get a better rating, then the food safety officer will be able to give you advice
The Food Standards Agency has a range of tools that can help you manage food hygiene. You can find out more about these on the hygiene resources page of the FSA's website.
Disagreeing with actions taken by the officer
If you do not agree with action taken by an inspector, you should first tell the inspector. If you still do not agree, contact the Food and Safety manager to see if the problem can be resolved informally. If you still disagree, you could approach your local councillor and/or ask about our formal complaint procedure.
The FSA’s Independent Business Appeal Panel (IBAP) will consider any complaint or appeal from a business against food safety and food standards advice given by a local authority. Before contacting the panel, the business must have raised a formal complaint or appeal with its local authority, and these must have concluded.
You can appeal to the Magistrates’ Court about a decision to issue a Hygiene Improvement Notice or Remedial Action Notice, or not to lift a hygiene emergency prohibition order. When there is a ban on an individual, this can only be lifted by the court. When inspectors impose a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice on premises, a process, or a piece of equipment, they must apply to the court for confirmation within a specified period of time.
Food that has been seized by an inspector can only be condemned as unfit for human consumption on the authority of a Justice of the Peace. You can attend the court hearing if you want to. If the court decides premises have been shut without proper reason, or food has been wrongly seized or detained, you have a right to compensation.
Making sure the scheme is fair
To make sure the scheme is fair it includes a number of safeguards:
- You can appeal if you think your hygiene rating is wrong. In other words it does not reflect the hygiene standards found at the time of your inspection. You must lodge your appeal with your local authority within 21 days (including weekends and bank holiday) of being told what your hygiene rating is. You can do this online by completing our Food Hygiene Rating Scheme appeal form.
- You can submit a 'right to reply' if you have improved hygiene standards since your inspection, or if there were unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection and you want to explain this to your customers. You can include your comments in an email or letter or by completing our Food Hygiene Rating Scheme right to reply form. We will publish your comments alongside your rating at www.food.gov.uk/ratings.
- You can ask for a revisit/re-inspection to get a new rating if you make the improvements to hygiene standards that the food safety officer told you about at your last inspection. You can make your request by using our online Food Hygiene Rating Scheme revisit form. The food safety officer will re-assess hygiene standards and give you a new rating. This could go up but it could stay the same or it could go down.
- You can request that a rating is published before the end of the appeal period. This request can be made in writing or via our Consent for early publication of rating form. You must include; details of who you are, the name and address of the business, your contact information, the date of the inspection and the rating given.
The cost recovery fee for a revisit request is £162 (outside the scope of VAT).
Displaying your rating is good for business
To make your rating good for business make sure you display your rating sticker and put it in a place where your customers can easily see it, for example, in a window or on the door. This immediately reassures them that your business takes food hygiene seriously. If you've lost, damaged or misplaced your sticker, contact us and we can provide you with a new one.
It's what customers look for - Food Standards Agency research has shown that people are becoming more aware of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and are actively looking for hygiene rating stickers when they are out and about.
There's a profit to be made - an increasing number of food businesses are displaying their hygiene rating stickers and more than a third of them say that this is having a positive impact. This includes greater customer confidence, better reputation among customers and, most importantly, more customers.
There are some other straightforward, cost effective tips to help you get the most out of your hygiene rating in the Food Standards Agency's online toolkit. This includes downloadable images showing your rating that can be easily included in menus, promotional materials and on your website.
Additional food hygiene information