What do the different ratings mean?

The food hygiene rating reflects the hygiene standards found on the date of inspection by a food safety officer from the business's local authority. The hygiene standards found at the time of inspection are rated on a scale. At the bottom of the scale is '0' - this means urgent improvement is required. At the top of the scale is '5' - this means the hygiene standards are very good. A rating shows you how well the business is meeting the requirements of food hygiene law. It gives you an idea of what's going on in the kitchen, or behind closed doors, so you can choose where you eat or buy food.

Check a food hygiene rating


How often will a restaurant or other food business be given a new rating?

A new rating is given each time the business is 'inspected' by a food safety officer from the local authority where the business is located. How often inspections take place depends on the risk to people's health. The greater the risk, the more often the business is inspected. If the business owner or manager makes improvements to hygiene standards, the business can ask its local authority for a visit to be carried out before the date of the next planned inspection. This means these improvements can be checked and a new rating could be given.

What can the owner of a business do if they think the rating given is unfair or wrong?

The owner or manager of the business should talk to the local authority food safety officer that inspected the business about 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. This means they can fill in a form that they can get from their local authority and sent it to them within 21 days (this includes weekends and public holidays) of being told what their rating is.

The owner or manager of the business also has a 'right to reply'. This is different from an appeal. The owner or manager can fill in a form that they can get from their local authority to tell them how the business has improved hygiene or to say if there were unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection. Replies will be vetted by the local authority prior to them being posted on the website. A business's right to reply will be published online by the local authority with the business's hygiene rating.

Can the owner of a business ask the local authority to inspect hygiene standards again to get a new rating?

Yes, but only if the improvements to hygiene that the local authority food safety officer told the business about at the last inspection have been made. The owner or manager of the food business can only ask the local authority once for another inspection to be carried out before the date of the next planned inspection.

Does a food business have to show its rating?

No, so if you see a business without a hygiene rating sticker, you'll have to decide if you want to eat or buy food from there without knowing the hygiene standards. Putting a hygiene rating on show is a good advertisement for businesses that meet the requirements of food hygiene law. A good food hygiene rating is good for business.

What does 'Awaiting Inspection' mean?

If a new business has been set up, or there is a new owner, it will not have a food hygiene rating to begin with but it may display a sticker or certificate that says 'Awaiting Inspection'. A rating will be given after a local authority food safety officer has inspected the business to check the hygiene standards.

Why are businesses with poor ratings not closed?

Businesses given ratings of '0' or '1' must make urgent or major improvements to hygiene standards. The local authority food safety officer will use a number of enforcement tools as well as giving advice and guidance to make sure these improvements are made. If the officer finds that a business's hygiene standards are very poor and there is an imminent risk to health - this means food is not safe to eat - the officer must take action to make sure that consumers are protected. This could mean prohibiting part of an operation or closing the business down.

Appeals Process

You must lodge your appeal in writing (you can send an email) within 21 days (this includes weekends and public holidays) of being notified of your food hygiene rating - you will be told the deadline for appealing when you are notified about your rating.

What is the purpose of the appeal process?

Following a hygiene inspection of your premises by a food safety officer from your local authority you will be told in writing - either at the time or within 14 days (this includes weekends and public holidays) - what your food hygiene rating is. If you think that the rating is wrong or unfair - in other words it does not reflect the hygiene standards at the time of inspection - you can appeal against this.

What should I do if I want to appeal my food hygiene rating?

It is a good idea to speak informally first of all to the food safety officer that undertook the inspection of your premises - you will be given the contact details for this officer when you are notified about your rating. This will help you to understand how your rating was worked out and to see if you can resolve the matter without having to appeal.

Following that, if you still think the rating given is wrong or unfair, you can lodge an appeal. To do this, you should complete the standard appeal form which is available to download and send this to your local authority's lead officer for food - again you will be given the contact details for this officer when you are notified about your rating.

How long do I have to appeal?

If you do not appeal within this time, your local authority will publish your food hygiene rating on the Food Standards Agency  website. What happens next and when will I know the result?

If you lodge an appeal, the information will show that your food hygiene rating is 'awaiting publication'. The lead officer for food or his/her deputy will review your case (in some circumstances a further visit to your premises may be required) and you will be notified of the result within a maximum of seven days from the date that the appeal was lodged and your hygiene rating will then be published on the Food Standards Agency website.

What if I don't agree with the outcome of the appeal?

You can challenge the local authority's decision by judicial review and should seek the advice of a solicitor.

Right to Reply

What is the purpose of the 'right to reply'?

This lets you explain to potential customers any actions that you have taken after your inspection to improve hygiene standards at your premises or to say if there were unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection that might have affected your food hygiene rating. It is not an opportunity to complain or criticise the food hygiene rating scheme or your food safety officer.

What should I do if I want to use my 'right to reply'?

You should send your comments in writing (you can send an email) using the 'Right to Reply' form to the food safety officer that undertook the inspection of your premises - you will be given the contact details for the officer when you are notified about your rating.

How long do I have to submit my comments?

There is no deadline for this so you can submit your 'right to reply' at any time up until your next inspection when you will get a new food hygiene rating.

What happens next?

Your local authority may edit your comments in order to remove any offensive, defamatory, clearly inaccurate or irrelevant remarks. Other than that, what you say in your 'right to reply' will then be published online together with your hygiene rating on the Food Standards Agency website.

Revisits Process

What is the purpose of requested re-visits?

If you make the improvements to hygiene standards that the local authority food safety officer told you about at your last planned inspection you can ask for a re-visit before the next planned inspection so that the hygiene standards in your premises can be reassessed with a view to giving you a new and higher food hygiene rating.

Is there anything I should do before making a request for a re-visit?

You are recommended to look carefully at the comments that the food safety officer made about the hygiene standards found at your last inspection in the report or letter you were given and make sure that you have taken appropriate action to address any issues raised. You can discuss anything you are unsure about with your food safety officer or ask for further help on how to make improvements.

This is important because you can only have one re-visit between the local authority's planned inspections of your premises. The officer will be looking at standards generally - not just at the specific areas you have been working to improve - so your hygiene rating could well go down and not up and you will not be able to get a new rating then until your next planned inspection which may not be for some time.

What should I do if I want to request a re-visit?

You should put your request in writing (you can send an email) using the 'Revisit' form to the food safety officer that undertook the inspection of your premises - you will be given the contact details for this officer when you are notified about your rating.

You must explain what actions you have taken on the issues raised at your last inspection and you should include supporting evidence, for example, receipts or photographs to show that work has been completed. This is important as the local authority could refuse your request if you do not provide sufficient information and evidence.

If the request is refused you will be given an explanation of why and advice on any action you need to take or evidence you need to provide before your request can be agreed. If you do not agree with the local authority's decision to refuse your request, you can raise the matter with the lead officer for food. If you cannot resolve matters with the lead officer for food, you can use the complaints procedure for your local authority, details of which may be found on the authority's website.

How long do I have to make my request?

There is no deadline for this - you can ask at any time after you've taken action to make the necessary improvements that were identified at your inspection. You cannot, however, dictate when the re-visit will take place.

How soon will the local authority visit?

Usually, the re-visit will not take place in the first three months following the inspection at which you were given your food hygiene rating. If, however, you were required only to make structural improvements or repairs or to upgrade equipment, your local authority may choose to carry out the requested re-visit sooner than this.

  • If you make your request during those first three months, you can expect a re-visit within six months of the inspection but you will not be told a specific date and time.
  • If you make your request later than three months after your inspection, you can expect a re-visit within three months but again you will not be told a specific date and time.
  • If you are still waiting for a re-visit after these times, you can ask the lead officer for food to investigate. If you cannot resolve matters in this way, you can use the complaints procedure for your local authority, details of which may be found on the authority's website.

What happens next and when will I know the result of the re-visit?

At the re-visit, the food safety officer will assess the standards of hygiene at your premises and you will be told in writing - either at the time or within 14 days (this includes weekends and bank holidays) - what your new food hygiene rating is. This could stay the same as before, it could go up, or it could go down. As with the original hygiene rating, you can appeal this if you think it is wrong or unfair or you can submit a 'right to reply' for publication on the Food Standards Agency website.

Will the re-visit cost me anything?

Not at the moment but it is possible that this may change in the future.