Kate Parffrey and Richard Gaywood at the door of Selley’s Coffee Shop

How the council's Environmental Health team works out a Food Hygiene Rating

Andrew Ennis, East Devon District Council’s Service Lead for Environmental Health, and his team work with commercial premises across the district. They perform nearly 1,000 food hygiene inspections each year to ensure that the places where you eat are safe.

An officer from Environmental Health’s commercial team inspects a business to check that it meets food hygiene law.  The officer will check and score:

  1. Food hygiene compliance (handling and preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage)
  2. Structural compliance (cleanliness, condition, layout, lighting and ventilation)
  3. Confidence in management (management and records, training, procedures, maintenance).

At the end of an inspection the officer rates hygiene standards on a scale from 0 to 5.

0 means urgent improvement is required. 5 means the hygiene standards are very good. These scores help determine how often the business will be inspected.

Andrew explained that: 

These three aspects are each essential to meet food hygiene standards. High standards ensure that the food you buy is safe to eat. Any business, no matter how small, should be able to achieve a good standard of 4.

If the business doesn’t get a top rating, the officer tells the owner or manager what actions they can take to improve their rating.

The officer gives a green hygiene rating sticker to the business. In England businesses aren’t currently required to display this sticker, although it’s a good advertisement for businesses that meet the requirements of food hygiene law.

You can search for a rating at the Food Standards Agency and you can download the East Devon mobile app, which lets you view various council services on your smartphone including local food hygiene ratings. There is more information about food hygiene on East Devon District Council’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme webpage. 

Selley’s Coffee Shop in Sidmouth

Environmental Health Technical Officer Kate Parffrey inspected Selley’s Coffee Shop in Sidmouth. In August 2016 Kate identified that the café needed some major improvements and gave it a low score. Kate explained to the owner why she had given this score and she offered advice to help him improve hygiene standards at the café.

Kate explained:

When I first inspected in 2016 I noted problems with the café’s hot water supply, fridge-freezer, storage and paperwork. I explained these issues to the owner and I was very impressed with how they responded to resolve the problems.

When Kate went to re-score in November 2016 some improvements had already been put in place and the score increased to level 4.

In July 2017 Kate found that all the required standards had been maintained and very good paperwork was in place. She said:

When I revisited in 2017 I was confident to re-score with a rating of 5.

Talking about the inspection process, owner Mr Richard Gaywood, said:

Yes, it was a shock to get a low score but with Kate’s advice we worked hard to make improvements. Kate gave us a list of actions which took us some time and money to put in place. We are very pleased that we managed to increase our score to the highest score of 5. We are very proud of this result and the process has made ours a better-run business. We have more plans for our café next year!    

Service Lead Andrew Ennis concluded:

It’s unusual for a small business to be able to make such exceptional progress in a short space of time, and we would like to celebrate the work of Kate and Mr Gaywood, the coffee shop owner, to encourage other small businesses.