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Food Hygiene Rating Scheme FAQs

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 this 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.

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. It is important to note that full re-inspection is carried out and your rating could go up or down. As of 1 April 2024, Chichester District Council will be charging £210 per revisit. A business can request as many revisits as they require between programmed inspections. The revisit will not be carried out until payment is received.

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 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.

What is the purpose of the appeal process?

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.

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 electronically on our website.

How long do I have to appeal?

If you do not appeal within 14 days of being issued with your rating, 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 appeal is determined by another local authority independent of Chichester DC. The Health Protection Manager from Chichester DC will communicate the outcome of the appeal in writing within 21 days of its initial receipt 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.

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 complete the electronic form on our website with your comments in writing.

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 after I submit my right to reply?

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.

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. 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 by completing the relevant electronic form. 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 Health Protection Manager. 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, although it will be undertaken within three months of receipt of your revisit request.

How soon will the local authority visit?

The revisit will be carried out by a food safety officer within three months of the date of receipt of your revisit application. You can request as many revisits as you wish between each programmed inspection. If you are still waiting for a re-visit after this time, you can ask the Health Protection Manager 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?

There is a £210 charge for each revisit request.