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November 2015

Improve your Food Hygiene Rating

Do you know what local authority environmental health inspectors are looking for when they visit your food business? Does your food business have a poor hygiene rating?

What is a Food Hygiene Rating?  

The food hygiene rating given to a food business reflects the standards of food hygiene found on the date of inspection or visit by the local authority inspectors. The scheme is a Food Standards Agency and Local Authority partnership The food hygiene rating is not a guide to food quality or standards of service. It is a rating of risk to consumers.  

The scheme is run by local authorities in England, Northern Ireland and Wales and applies to restaurants, pubs, cafes, pop-up food businesses, markets, home businesses, takeaways, hotels, supermarkets and other food businesses.

Many consumers today are more than likely to check out your Food Hygiene Rating, which you may have displayed on your front door or window. If you don’t have it displayed, consumers can check out your rating on-line or they could walk away and go to another place, where it is displayed. Customers may also check out your rating on-line prior to making a booking. 

It is not a legal requirement in England (it is in Wales) to display your Food Hygiene Rating, although your Enforcement Officer may recommend you do so. If food businesses fail to display ratings in Wales, the company is fined. It will also become compulsory in Northern Ireland in 2016 to display ratings. 

Food Hygiene Ratings have replaced the ‘Scores on Doors’ rating system since 2012. The Ratings are expressed in a value of O to 5. 

The ratings are:

5 - Very good 

4 - Good 

3 - Generally satisfactory 

2 - Improvements necessary 

1 - Major improvement necessary 

0 - Urgent improvement necessary 

As part of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, at the end of inspections, the business will be given one of the six ratings based on certain criteria. These are set out below.


How are food hygiene ratings calculated?


When the Enforcement Officer from the Local Authority carries out an inspection, there are many different things the look at and look for. There are 3 main categories. 

The first category the officer is looking at the hygienic handling of *food. This includes the preparation and cooking of food, as well as storage of food products and cooling and reheating of food products.    

The second category is the cleanliness and the condition of the facilities. This section covers, cleaning, pest control, hand washing facilities and maintenance.  

The third section covers how well the business is managed! Here the officer will check if systems are in place to protect food safety, such as a Food Safety Management Systems and HACCP plans. They will check if your staff follow good hygiene rules.

Wales has seen significant improvements in ratings since the introduction of the Food Hygiene Rating (Wales) Act 2013, where it is a legal requirement to display ratings. If not, the food business will faced with a fine. 

How can I improve my Food Hygiene Rating?

Your rating will stay with you until your next inspection. This could vary between 6 months to 3 years. Great if you have a rating above 3. But what if you have a rating below 3? Would you like help improving your risk rating? Or are you happy with your risk rating and would like to maintain your quality standards. Call us 020 3371 1516 and ask about our food hygiene audits. Prices start from £350/visit. 

We also provide documentation services such as HACCP and food safety policies.  

At Kitchen Tonic we have helped our clients drive up food safety standards in the work place, through our training and food safety assessments. Our clients "Food Hygiene Ratings" have improved from 0 or 1 to 3 stars and from 3 or 4 to 5 stars and in one case 0 to 5. We maintain client confidentiality at all times. Our clients include well known high street catering, hospitality and retail companies. 

*Food refers to any food or drink products that you serve to customers including ice.