Food Hygiene and Safety

What Is the Range of Food Hygiene Ratings?

Abu Sayed Naiem
Abu Sayed Naiem

Have you ever walked into a restaurant, glanced at the hygiene rating displayed near the entrance, and wondered what it really meant? Food hygiene ratings are like a window into the kitchen, giving you insight into food establishments’ cleanliness and safety practices. They range from 0 to 5, where 0 indicating “urgent improvement necessary” and 5 representing “very good” hygiene standards.

Understanding this range can help you make informed decisions about where to eat and ensure that your dining experience is both delicious and safe.

Get ready to delve into the world of food hygiene ratings and uncover their significance when it comes to choosing safe and clean dining options. Let’s explore the range of ratings and gain valuable insights for a healthier dining experience!

Female restaurant manager writing on clipboard while interacting with head chef.

 What is the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme?

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme or, FHRS is a system designed to assess and communicate the hygiene standards of food establishments. It provides a simple way for consumers to make informed choices about where to eat. The scheme was first introduced in the United Kingdom in 2010 and has since been adopted by many other countries.

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The Food Standards Agency, a government-led organisation, operates the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Under this scheme, trained food safety inspectors visit food businesses, like restaurants, cafes, and takeaways, to assess their compliance with hygiene regulations. After the inspection, each establishment is awarded a hygiene rating on a scale from 0 to 5, with 5 being the highest rating.

This rating is then prominently displayed, typically in the form of a sticker or certificate, and can also be found online. The goal is to provide transparency and help consumers make informed decisions based on the hygiene standards of the establishment. Scotland also has a similar system known as the Food Hygiene Information Scheme.

Golden correct tick mark sign with 5 stars rating on white background.

What the Ratings Cover

The ratings are determined through a comprehensive inspection process that covers crucial aspects, including:

Handling of Food

The rating covers how food is handled, ensuring proper practices to prevent cross-contamination, maintaining appropriate temperatures, and handling ingredients safely.

Food Storage

It includes the correct storage of food, such as refrigeration, stock rotation, and adequate measures to protect against contamination and spoilage.

Food Preparation

The rating assesses safe food preparation practices, including proper cooking temperatures, hygienic handling of ingredients, and prevention of bacterial growth or contamination during preparation.

Cleanliness of Facilities

It evaluates the cleanliness and maintenance of kitchen areas, utensils, equipment, and dining spaces, emphasising the importance of hygiene and sanitation.

Food Safety Management

The rating considers the establishment’s overall management of food safety, including the presence of proper procedures, staff training, record-keeping, and effective implementation of food safety management systems.

What is the Range of Food Hygiene Ratings?

Food hygiene ratings range from 5 to 0 and provide an indication of how well a business manages its food preparation and service areas. These scores help identify businesses excelling in food safety and those in need of improvement. The following outlines the Food Standards Agency ratings:

Hygiene Standards Are Very Good

Food hygiene rating 5 indicates that a business has achieved the highest level of hygiene standards. They have excellent practices in place and comply with food safety laws. This means they —

  • handle food properly,
  • keep their kitchen clean,
  • effectively control pests,
  • and have strong training and internal systems for food safety.

It’s a reassuring score (0-15 points) that shows the business is doing everything right when it comes to ensuring the safety of the food they serve.

Hygiene Standards Are Good

A rating of 4 indicates that a business has good hygiene standards overall. They are considered reliable food providers. However, there might be some minor areas that need improvement, as pointed out by the inspector. These areas can be addressed to further enhance the hygiene practices of the business.

Overall, a score of 4 (20 points) shows that the establishment maintains a high level of cleanliness and safety, with only minor adjustments needed for even better standards.

Hygiene Standards Are Generally Satisfactory

A rating of 3 indicates that a business has satisfactory hygiene standards. While there is room for improvement, the hygiene levels do not pose immediate threats to consumers. It means that the establishment meets the basic requirements of food safety regulations, but there may be some areas where they can enhance their practices.

The inspector’s recommendations may focus on minor adjustments to further improve cleanliness, handling procedures, or documentation. Overall, a score of 3 (25-30 points) assures consumers that the business maintains an acceptable level of hygiene, with no immediate concerns for their safety.

Some Improvement Is Necessary

A rating of 2 (35-40 points) suggests that there is a need for improvement in the hygiene standards of a business. It indicates concerns regarding the facility or the practices related to food handling that does not fully comply with hygiene laws.

Here during the inspection the inspector might identify specific areas that require changes to meet the required regulations. These changes can include addressing cleanliness, storage, and food handling issues or implementing better hygiene practices.

It’s important for the business to take prompt action and make the necessary improvements to ensure they align with the established hygiene standards and provide a safer environment for consumers.

Discover the key to food safety with our blog post on the 4 C’s: Cleaning, Cooking, Cross-contamination, and Chilling. Dive into a detailed overview and unlock the secrets to maintaining a safe and healthy food environment.

Major Improvement Is Necessary

Food hygiene rating 1 (45-50 points) indicates that major and immediate improvements are necessary in terms of hygiene standards. Businesses with this rating have consistently violated food hygiene rules and often lack sufficient training in proper practices. Urgent action is required to rectify these issues and meet the required hygiene standards.

The inspector has identified significant concerns that need to be addressed quickly to ensure the safety of consumers. This may involve —

  • reevaluating and improving processes,
  • training staff on proper hygiene practices,
  • and implementing stricter measures to comply with food hygiene regulations.

It’s crucial for the business to take immediate action and make the necessary changes to ensure the well-being of its customers.

Urgent Improvement Is Required

A rating of 0 (50+ points) indicates that urgent improvement is required for businesses. It represents the highest level of urgency in terms of hygiene standards. Businesses with this rating have significant violations and fail to meet essential food safety requirements.

Inspectors have identified severe breaches of food hygiene rules and practices within the establishment. Failure to address these issues promptly can have serious consequences, such as risks to public health or legal repercussions. It is crucial for the business to take immediate steps to rectify the violations. This may involve —

  • implementing rigorous cleaning and sanitisation protocols,
  • addressing structural or equipment deficiencies,
  • improving staff training,
  • and revising internal processes to ensure compliance with hygiene standards.

A score of 0 serves as a strong reminder of the urgent need for improvement and emphasises the critical importance of maintaining a safe and hygienic environment for customers.

Within 14 days of receiving a rating, businesses receive a written assessment to aid in improving or maintaining standards.

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Who Needs a Food Hygiene Rating?

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme applies to various businesses involved in handling and preparing food. Here’s a simple breakdown of who needs a food hygiene rating:

  • Places where you can sit and eat or get food to go, like restaurants, cafes, and takeout joints.
  • Stores that sell food items, including grocery stores, convenience stores, and delicatessens.
  • Businesses that provide catering for events or deliver food to customers, such as caterers and food delivery services.
  • Establishments that serve food alongside alcoholic beverages, like pubs and bars.
  • Food stalls, food trucks, and mobile caterers operate from different locations.
  • Places like schools, hospitals, and care homes provide meals for students, patients, or residents.
  • Companies involved in producing, processing, or packaging food, such as factories and bakeries.

Uncover the essence of food safety with our blog post on the 7 HACCP principles. Delve into a detailed analysis and unravel the secrets behind Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points.


Certain businesses are exempt from receiving a food hygiene rating, although they are still inspected by local authority food safety officers. These exemptions include:

Low-risk Businesses

This category includes establishments like newsagents, chemist shops, or visitor centres that primarily sell pre-packaged goods that do not require refrigeration. As they pose minimal risk to public health, they are not assigned a food hygiene rating.

Childminders and Home-based Care Services

Businesses offering childcare services or caring services at home, such as childminders, are also exempt from food hygiene ratings. These services are typically provided in a domestic setting rather than a commercial food establishment.

Although these businesses are exempt from the food hygiene rating scheme, they are still subject to inspections to ensure they maintain basic food safety standards.

Collage of customer experience concept with 5 stars ratings

How to Get a Food Hygiene Rating?

To get a food hygiene rating, follow these key points:

Register Your Business

Contact your local authority and register your food business.

Schedule an Inspection

Once registered, your local authority will conduct a food hygiene inspection of your premises.

Inspection Criteria

The inspection will assess how food is handled, the physical condition of your business, and your food safety management practices.

Receive Your Rating

Based on the inspection, your business will be assigned a food hygiene rating from 0 to 5.

Improvement Advice

If you receive a low rating, the inspector will provide guidance on areas that need improvement to raise your score in the future.

Appeal or Request a Re-inspection

If you believe the rating is unfair, you can appeal or request a re-inspection by contacting your local inspector. Note that charges may apply for a re-inspection.

Tips on How to Improve Food Hygiene Ratings

Here are some tips on how to improve your food hygiene ratings:

  • Regularly train your staff on food safety practices and allergen awareness.
  • Emphasise proper handwashing, glove usage, and clean uniforms.
  • Ensure proper separation and temperature control of raw and cooked foods.
  • Establish a rigorous cleaning schedule for all areas and utensils.
  • Implement effective measures to prevent pest infestations.
  • Develop and apply a comprehensive system to identify and control hazards.
  • Maintain accurate records of training, cleaning, and supplier information.
  • Have clear procedures for handling and labelling allergenic ingredients.
  • Regularly service and maintain equipment to ensure safe operation.
  • Conduct internal audits to identify and address potential issues proactively.

Female scientist looking at strawberries in her research lab.

How Are Food Hygiene Ratings Calculated?

Environmental Health Food Safety Officers (EHO) calculate food hygiene ratings by assessing three categories: hygiene, structural, and management compliance using the Food Law Code of Practice. They assign points to each category, totalling the score from 25 (very poor) to 0 (perfect), ensuring no significant failings exist in any category.

How to Get a 5 Star Food Hygiene Rating?

To obtain a 5-star food hygiene rating, concentrate on three assessment areas:

  • ensuring proper building conditions,
  • practising safe food handling, storage, and preparation, and
  • maintaining organised records, well-organised cleaning procedures, and well-trained staff.

Refer to the UK government’s food hygiene rating checklist to enhance your rating.

Wrapping Up

To sum up, understanding the range of food hygiene ratings is essential for both businesses and consumers. By knowing what each rating signifies, you can make informed choices about where to eat and support establishments that prioritise food safety. Whether it’s a 5-star rating showcasing excellent standards or a lower rating indicating room for improvement, food hygiene ratings serve as a valuable tool in ensuring the health and well-being of everyone. So, remember to look for those health and hygiene rating stickers and enjoy your meals with confidence!


How often are food hygiene ratings done?

The frequency of food hygiene ratings varies based on the risk level of the business, with high-risk establishments being inspected every six months, and low-risk ones undergoing inspections every two or more years.

How do I check my food hygiene rating?

To check food hygiene ratings, you can use either Scores on the Doors or the Food Standards Agency (FSA) rating websites. The FSA provides more up-to-date information, including the last inspection date, current rating, and business details, making it the recommended option for accessing food hygiene ratings.

Do food hygiene ratings have to be displayed?

The Food Standards Agency encourages businesses in England to display their food hygiene ratings, while in Wales and Northern Ireland, it is a legal requirement for businesses to display their certificates prominently.

How long does a food hygiene rating last?

The validity duration of a food hygiene rating depends on the risk level of the business, with high-risk businesses typically requiring re-inspection every six months, while low-risk businesses may have a validity period of two or more years.

What is the best rating you can achieve in the food hygiene rating scheme?

The best rating you can achieve in the food hygiene rating scheme is a score of 5, indicating excellent standards of food hygiene.

How long do you have to appeal a food hygiene rating?

Businesses typically have a window of 21 days, starting from the date they received their food hygiene rating, to lodge an appeal against the rating.

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Abu Sayed Naiem