Food hygiene, inspections and rescoring

Food hygiene ratings scheme

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme provides customers and members of the public with a simple guide to show how food businesses are complying with food hygiene requirements. This is a national scheme allowing anyone to check ratings of premises throughout the country. At the end of each inspection, the business is given a score in each of eight categories, three of which make up the final rating. The total score for those three categories translates into the rating for the business which can range from zero (urgent improvement necessary) to five (very good). You can find out more about how the ratings are given on the Food Standards Agency website.

Businesses are provided with a window sticker which they are encouraged to display at the entrance of their premises to promote their food hygiene rating.  Ratings are uploaded to the Food Hygiene Ratings Scheme website within 21 days of the inspection being carried out.

Businesses achieving a three (generally satisfactory), four (good) or five (very good) rating are considered ‘broadly compliant’, and generally no further action will be taken until the next routine inspection is due.  We work closely with any business achieving a zero (urgent improvement necessary), one (major improvement necessary), or two (improvement necessary) rating to ensure that standards improve.  In some circumstances this may require formal action to be taken to achieve compliance.

The Food Hygiene Rating relates only to hygiene standards in the food business - it is not about the quality of the food or the standard of service provided to customers.

Search for a food hygiene rating

Right of appeal

If the business disagrees with the rating given, they have a right to appeal and should contact the inspecting officer to discuss their concerns in the first instance. If the business owner or manager still thinks that the rating is unfair or wrong, they can appeal in writing to our Assistant Manager for Food, Safety and Licensing. Details on how to appeal can be found on the Food Standards Agency's Information note for food businesses in England.

Right to reply

Business may wish to tell customers how they have improved their hygiene standards or if there were unusual circumstances at the time of inspection. The response will be published online, alongside their rating. The Food Standards Agency's 'Right to reply' form contains details on the submission process.

Food Hygiene Rating Request for Rescore Inspection

If a food business has been rated less than 5 and has made all the necessary improvements identified by the inspecting officer, a request a rescore inspection can be submitted, using the online request a rescore form.

A fee is payable to cover the cost of the rescoring inspection. The rescoring inspection will not take place until the fee has been paid.

When completing the application form evidence must be provided to show that necessary action has been taken to improve standards. This can include photographs, certificates and/or details of works completed.

When the request for rescore has been accepted another officer will carry out an unannounced full food hygiene inspection to determine the new food hygiene rating.  It is important to note that no other contraventions should be found, as this may impact the new rating.  Ratings do not automatically go up when applying for a rescore inspection.   An important criteria in assessing the rating is ‘Confidence in Management’. If a low rating is given due to poor ‘Confidence in management’ it is unlikely that a five (very good) rating will be awarded at the rescoring inspection, as sustained improvements need to be seen.

Please also read our guidance on how to improve your food hygiene rating.

Food hygiene inspections

Food and safety officers routinely visit premises to check that businesses are complying with food law, and are producing food that is safe to eat. To do this, we look at:

  • The structure of the premises
  • Working practices
  • Food safety management systems and records
  • The types of food made and prepared
  • Training undertaken by managers and food handlers

Officers may visit premises for several reasons, including:

  • food hygiene inspections
  • sampling
  • complaint visits
  • advisory visits

Officers have the right to enter and inspect premises at any reasonable time. Inspections will usually be carried out without making an appointment.

The frequency of inspections will depend on the type of business and its previous record. Some premises might be inspected at least every six months, others less often. Officers will offer help and advice on food safety, and can take action if standards of food hygiene are found to be poor. In serious cases, further action such as service of legal notices, formally closing the premises, or prosecution may follow.


Complaints

If you have concerns about the condition of a food premises that you have visited you can Report a food premises online

Please visit our Food Complaints Page if you wish to report a food complaint for further information.

Food Hygiene Rating Rescoring

If your food business has been rated less than 5 and you have addressed all of the matters identified by the inspecting officer you can request a visit for the rating to be reassessed.

Requests are made via an online form at the bottom of this page. A fee is payable to cover the cost of the rescore visit.

In completing the form you must provide evidence of the actions you have taken to address the matters identified by the inspecting officer. This can include text and photographs.

You can ask for as many visits as you like, but you will have to pay for each visit.

Once a request has been made and paid for, an unannounced visit will be made.

Please note that the rescore visit will be a full inspection and review all matters related to the production of food. If new issues are found, then the score may stay the same or be lowered.

If your premises has been rated less than 5 on previous occasions then this will affect the Confidence in Management element of the score such that a rescore of 5 is not possible. If the history of compliance is particularly poor a rescore request may not be appropriate. You should contact the inspecting officer for advice.

Your new score will be displayed on the food hygiene rating scheme website within 21 days.

You can apply for a rescore visit online using our online form.

Safer Food, Better Business

Food safety law requires all but the lowest risk food businesses to prepare and put into practice a documented food safety management system.

The purpose of a documented food safety management system is to identify what could go wrong (and cause food to be unsafe to eat) and identify suitable controls to prevent this from happening. It is also likely to set out how this can be monitored and require some records to be kept to demonstrate that the controls have been working.

The Food Standards Agency has developed Safer Food Better Business to help small business comply with this requirement. A number of versions of the pack for different business types and cuisines are available as free downloads. The food business operator will need to fill in the blanks to personalise the pack to their business, put the Safe Methods into practice and keep a daily diary.

Links to each version of the pack are available online

Businesses that manufacture food, larger and more complex operations may need a more detailed food safety management system based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points). Please contact the food safety team for further advice.

Lower risk and very small businesses may find our food safety management system for low risk business a suitable alternative

Our Cake Makers and Home Caterers guidance also contains a food safety management system template

Find out more at the food standards agency website

We have produced a leaflet that explains what you need to do to improve your food hygiene rating.

The Food Standards Agency's Safer Food Better Business packs can be accessed on their website.