How does the Food Hygiene Rating System work?

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The FHRS (Food Hygiene Rating System) is designed to help people choose where to shop for food, or to go out and eat, by noting how seriously businesses take the standard of their food hygiene. It can apply to businesses such as pubs, restaurants, cafés, hotels, takeaways and supermarkets.

How does it work?

Following an inspection by a food safety officer, each business is given a hygiene rating. This inspector will assess how well the business is following the law; by looking at how records are managed, and how they ensure food is safe; how hygienically food is handled and how it’s prepared, stored, cooked, cooled and reheated; the structural condition of the buildings, and the layout, cleanliness, and ventilation, along with other facilities. After this, the business is given a rating from 0-5, with 5 meaning the business has hygiene standards which are ‘very good’, and 0 meaning ‘urgent improvement necessary’. The rating also takes different areas into account, as a business can do less well in some areas than others.


A business is given a new rating every time they are inspected, with how often inspections take place depending on the risk to the health of the public. Inspections are more frequent for businesses with a greater risk. In addition there are circumstances which can arise, making it appropriate for a full inspection to be carried out. These circumstances include when an authorised officer discovers a serious hygiene issue at a business which previously scored well; during the course of an investigation of an outbreak of food poisoning; result of a complaint by a customer; and if there is significant change in management, ownership or nature of the food business.

Some businesses will display a sticker in the window, which shows their hygiene rating and the date of inspection. It isn’t mandatory for a business to do this, but it is encouraged so a customer can see when they visit.

What do the ratings mean?

The ratings of 0 to 5 are decided by looking at the scores given to the compliance of food hygiene, and management or control procedures by the business. With a total score of 0-15, a business would fall into the top tier, be given a rating of 5 and ‘very good; a score of 20 will fall into the second tier, be given a rating of 4 and ‘good’; the score 25-30 will fall into the third tier, be given a rating of 3 and ‘satisfactory; 35-40 will fall into the fourth tier, be given a rating of 2 and ‘improvement necessary’; 45-50 falls into the fifth tier, rated 1 and ‘major improvement necessary’; finally a score of 50 or greater will fall into the bottom tier, be rated 0 and ‘urgent improvement necessary’.

The scores that are given for food hygiene compliance are 25, 20,15,10, 5 and 0. 25 is the score given for near total non-compliance, and 0 for a high standard of compliance. For compliance of management or control procedures the scores are 30, 20,10, 5 and 0. 30 being awarded for poor compliance, and 0 for good compliance

Put simply; the lower the total compliance score, the higher the food hygiene rating given.

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