Food hygiene ratings for businesses

Guidance for businesses on the food hygiene rating scheme, inspection frequency, making an appeal, publishing a response to a hygiene rating and requesting a re-inspection
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Find out what the food hygiene rating scheme is

Frequency of inspections

A new rating is given each time a business is inspected by a food safety officer from the business’s local authority.

The frequency of inspections depends on the potential risk to public health as assessed at the previous inspection.

The assessment takes account of the following factors:

  • type of food that is handled
  • the number and type of customers, for example vulnerable groups
  • types of processes carried out before the food is sold or served
  • hygiene standards seen on the day

Businesses that pose a higher risk are inspected more often than businesses that pose a lower risk. for example, a small retailer selling a range of prepacked foods that only need to be refrigerated. The time between inspections varies from six months for the highest risk businesses to two years for lower risk businesses. For some very low risk businesses, the interval between inspections may be longer than two years, however there may be some exceptions to this.

To focus on businesses that have poorer hygiene standards, each local authority plans a programme of inspections every year. Each local authority is responsible for a varying number of food businesses so the programme is designed to ensure they inspect and rate food outlets that represent the greatest risk to people’s health more frequently.

In between inspections, local authorities may also monitor businesses in other ways to ensure they are maintaining hygiene standards. If these checks reveal anything that might indicate that hygiene standards have deteriorated, the officer will carry out an inspection and the business will get a new rating.

If the local authority receives a complaint or new information about a business that they are not due to inspect, and this suggests hygiene standards are not being maintained, the local authority will investigate and may inspect the business and give it a new hygiene rating.

Achieving a higher rating

All businesses should be able to achieve the top rating of 5. If they do not, the food safety officer will outline the improvements that they need to make, and advice on how to achieve a higher rating.

We provide business guidance to help manage food hygiene and helpful information about food law inspections.

Address details for a business are wrong

If you are the owner or manager of a food business and the name or address details shown on our food hygiene ratings service are wrong, you should contact the local authority that gave you the rating and ask for the necessary changes to be made.

Find your local authority food safety team.

Safeguards

Appeals

Before making an appeal, business owners or managers should contact the local authority food safety officer first to understand why the rating was given. If the business owner or manager still thinks that the rating is unfair or wrong, they can appeal in writing to their local authority.

Find more information on how to make an appeal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Business’s right to reply

The right to reply allows the business to tell customers how the business has improved its hygiene standards or if there were unusual circumstances at the time of inspection. This response will be published online, alongside the rating, by the local authority.

Request for a re-visit inspection

The business owner/manager can request a re-visit to get a new rating when all the necessary hygiene improvements have been made. Some local authorities in England charge a fee to recover the costs of carrying out a revisit inspection.  In Wales and Northern Ireland all local authorities charge a fee to recover costs for the re-visit under their statutory schemes.

Safeguard information

Downloadable resources for businesses

We provide a food hygiene rating scheme toolkit for businesses which gives you ideas and inspiration on how to publicise your food hygiene rating online and offline.