Food hygiene ratings

How business ratings are decided, what to do to get a good score, and how to contest a rating.

How your business can get a top rating

To achieve a top rating, you must be able to demonstrate very good compliance with legal requirements for food hygiene. The level of compliance will be assessed by the food safety officer when your business is inspected.

Demonstrate food is being handled hygienically

Some examples of how you can demonstrate food is being handled hygienically are as follows:

  • Staff show high standards of personal hygiene, such as clean over-clothing (like aprons), appropriate headwear, minimal jewellery and regular and appropriate hand-washing.
  • Control measures are in place to prevent cross contamination, such as use of separate areas for handling raw and cooked foods, proper use of colour coded chopping boards, and correct use of appropriate cleaning chemicals.
  • Foods are stored at the correct temperature, for example, food stored in fridges is maintained at less than 8°C and the chill chain is protected.
  • Foods are properly cooked, re-heated and cooled, for example, cooked to 75°C or hotter, checked visually for signs of thorough cooking, and cooled quickly and refrigerated as necessary.

Condition and structure of premises

There should, for example, be:

  • a suitable structure which is clean and in good repair throughout the premises
  • adequate natural or artificial lighting
  • adequate natural or artificial ventilation
  • a structure proofed against pest entry.

Managing and documenting food safety

It is a legal requirement for food businesses to provide documentary evidence that the food they produce is safe. This should:

  • identify and show an understanding of the food safety hazards (microbiological, physical and chemical) within the business
  • provide evidence that measures have been taken to effectively control these hazards and that these measures are reviewed as appropriate
  • provide evidence that all food handlers are supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters in order that they produce food that is safe to eat.

The Food Standards Agency has systems to help create a documented food safety management system – Safer food, better business and Safe catering.

These are suitable for many types of food business, but not all.

Check your last food hygiene rating

To get the best possible rating, you should look at your last food hygiene inspection report to check that you've taken all of the actions needed to ensure that you meet legal requirements. If you can’t find your last report, ask us for a copy:

If you don’t get the top rating at your next inspection, and you have queries about the improvements you need to make to get a better rating, the food safety officer will give you advice.