The national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme can help you decide where to eat out

Before forking out, check out the Food Standards Agency’s Scores on the doors to find out if a restaurant, takeaway or food shop has good food hygiene standards

It’s not easy choosing where to eat out or where to order food for a takeaway. You want to be sure that not only the food will be delicious, but also to be reassured that the hygiene of the establishment is of a high standard. This is where the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) can help you decide where to eat out or to shop for food.

The FHRS provides information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafés, takeaways, hotels and other places you eat, as well as supermarkets and other food shops. Its aim is to reduce foodborne illness, by checking that these businesses are kept clean. The scheme also encourages businesses to improve their hygiene standards.

It can be difficult to judge hygiene standards on appearance alone, so the rating gives you an idea of what’s going on in the kitchen, or behind closed doors. East Devon District Council’s Environmental Health team, along with other local authorities, operates the scheme with the Food Standards Agency in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A similar scheme operates in Scotland.

Ratings are given to:

• Places where you can eat out such as restaurants, takeaways, cafés, sandwich shops, pubs, and hotels

• Other places where people eat away from home, such as schools, hospitals and residential care homes

• Places where you shop for food, such as supermarkets, bakeries, and delicatessens.

Some places where you might eat away from home or buy food are exempt and not given a rating. This is generally because they are a low risk to people’s health, for example, a newsagent selling only wrapped sweets.

Businesses in England are encouraged to display their rating, but are not required to by law. However, displaying a hygiene rating is a good advertisement for businesses that meet the requirements of food hygiene law.

Anyone can use the ratings to choose which businesses to use and can share this information with their friends and family. If a business has been given a rating, it can be searched for at the Food Standards Agency.

East Devon District Council’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme webpage has more information. You can download the East Devon mobile app, which lets you view various council services on your smartphone including local food hygiene ratings.