Guide Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

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2. The award

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme helps you make informed choices about where you choose your food from. It also encourages businesses to improve their standards by publicly recognising high hygiene standards.

Food businesses are graded on the food hygiene standard found at the last inspection, and the business is given a sticker to put in the window to display what grade they were awarded.

People can also use an app on their mobile phone or go on line to the Food Standards Agency to check out the business, and choose where they eat out or buy food from; even if the business decides not to display the sticker.

The scheme has six levels, from 5 to 0. A 5 rating shows that the business has reached a very good level of compliance with food hygiene law. A 0 rating shows a poor level of compliance with legal requirements and that urgent works are necessary. A rating of 4 shows a business has reached a good level of compliance.

Any food businesses, no matter how small, should be able to achieve a 4 rating award. Some premises where the structure is particularly awkward, for example those with very small kitchens, may need to carry out significant work to be eligible for a 5 rating.

Some businesses are not included, usually those which the public would not see as food businesses, (such as childminders and small residential homes) and very low risk premises which are exempt from the scheme (such as those which only sell wrapped sweets and low risk foods).

There is an appeals procedure for businesses who disagree with the rating they have been awarded, and a facility for a business to leave a "Right to Reply" comment on the website alongside the rating displayed against their premises. Businesses can also ask for a re-rating inspection when they have completed works.  Details can be found on the Guidance on safeguards section at the Food Standards Agency website.