Food hygiene rating scheme

Eating out? Getting food in? Check the food hygiene rating

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme helps you choose where to eat out or shop for food. The scheme gives you information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, hotels, and other places you like to go to eat out, as well as supermarkets and other food shops.

You can look up food hygiene ratings at www.food.gov.uk/ratings - you can search for ratings for local businesses and for businesses elsewhere in England, and also in Wales and Northern Ireland.

How does the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme work?

The scheme is being run by the West Suffolk Councils in partnership with the Food Standards Agency - the central government department with responsibility for food safety. It will give you information about the hygiene standards in food premises at the time they are inspected by one of our food safety officers to check that they are meeting legal requirements on food hygiene. The hygiene rating given reflects what the officer finds at the time.

It's not easy to judge hygiene standards on appearance alone so the rating gives you an idea of what's going on in the kitchen, or behind closed doors. You can check the ratings and use the information to choose a place with higher standards. It's also good to share this information with friends and family.

Why is the scheme important?

Providing information on hygiene standards in food outlets gives people a wider basis on which to make a choice. It also recognises those businesses with the highest standards and encourages others to improve. The overall aim is to reduce the number of cases of food poisoning which currently affects around one million people in the UK every year.

The scheme helps local people and visitors to the area when deciding where to eat and buy food. The scheme runs nationally which means people can make like for like comparison with businesses in other areas. It also means businesses are treated consistently with local competitors and with their competitors more widely.

Which businesses are given a rating?

Restaurants, takeaways, cafes, sandwich shops, pubs, hotels, supermarkets and other retail food outlets, as well as other businesses where consumers can eat or buy food, are given a hygiene rating as part of the scheme.

How is the rating calculated?

Each business is given a rating following an inspection by a food safety officer. This is based on how well the business is meeting the requirements of food hygiene law at that time. The assessment is based on a consideration of the following three elements:

  • 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 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.

Each of these three elements is essential for making sure that food hygiene standards meet requirements and the food served or sold to you is safe to eat.

The rating is only about the hygiene standards of the food business - it is not about the quality of the food or about the standards of service provided to customers.

What are the different ratings?

The food hygiene rating reflects the hygiene standards found at the time the business is inspected by a food safety officer. These officers are specially trained and qualified to assess food hygiene standards.

A business is given one of these ratings:

 

FHRS Ratings

All businesses should be able achieve the top rating of 5.

The rating given shows how well the business is doing overall but also takes account of the element or elements most in need of improving and also the level of risk to people's health that these issues pose. This is because some businesses will do well in some areas and less well in others but each of the three elements checked is essential for making sure that food hygiene standards meet requirements and the food served or sold to you is safe to eat.

To get the top rating of '5', businesses must do well in all three elements.

Those with ratings of '0' are very likely to be performing poorly in all three elements and are likely to have a history of serious problems. There may, for example, be a lack of sufficient cleaning and disinfection, and the system of management in place may not be enough to ensure the food is always kept safe.

Where a business does not achieve the top rating, the food safety officer will explain to the person that owns or manages the business what improvements are needed.

What can businesses do to improve if they need to?

Business owners and managers can find out more about what they need to do to achieve the highest rating by visiting our page Good food hygiene is easier to spot.

Where will the food hygiene rating be displayed?

You can look up food hygiene ratings at www.food.gov.uk/ratings - you can search for ratings for local businesses and for businesses elsewhere in England, and also in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Businesses are also given a window sticker showing their rating and are encouraged to display these in places where you can easily see them when you visit. In England, display is voluntary at the moment so not all businesses may have put their sticker up in the window or on the door but, if you don't see it, you can ask them.

iPhone and Android phone users can access FHRS ratings on the move. The free food hygiene standards app allows users to search the FHRS data. The app can be downloaded free from iTunes or from the Google Play store.

Where can I get further information?

You can find out about the scheme on the Food Standard Agency's website and there's a short video on YouTube produced by the Food Standards Agency explaining the FHRS.