Food hygiene for businesses

A good food hygiene rating is good for your business

All businesses should be able to get the top rating of five.

To get this, you must be able to demonstrate very good compliance with legal requirements for food hygiene.

The level of compliance will be assessed by the food safety officer when your business is inspected.

Your food hygiene rating is based on the level of compliance in three areas:

  • how hygienically the food is handled - safe food preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage
  • the condition of the structure of the premises - cleanliness, repair, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities
  • how you manage what you do to make sure food is safe and so that the officer can be confident standards will be maintained in the future

How can you demonstrate that food is handled hygienically?

You can do this by showing, for example, that:

  • there are high standards of personal hygiene of staff - for example, clean over clothing (such as aprons), appropriate headwear, minimal jewellery and regular and appropriate hand-washing
  • control measures are in place to prevent cross-contamination - for example, the use of separate areas and equipment for handling and preparing raw and cooked foods, and the correct use of appropriate cleaning chemicals
  • foods are stored at the correct temperature - for example, food stored in fridges is maintained at less than 8°C and the chill chain is protected
  • foods are properly cooked, reheated and cooled - for example, foods are cooked to 75°C or hotter and are checked visually for signs of thorough cooking, and foods are cooled quickly to 8°C or below and kept at a safe temperature until used

What about the condition and structure of your premises?

There should, for example, be:

  • a suitable structure which is clean and in good repair throughout the premises
  • adequate natural/artificial lighting and ventilation
  • adequate proofing against pest entry
  • adequate facilities including washbasins, toilet(s) and, where necessary, sink(s)

It is a legal requirement for most food businesses to provide documentary evidence that the food they produce is safe. This should:

  • identify and show an understanding of the food safety hazards (microbiological, physical and chemical) within the business
  • provide evidence that measures have been taken to effectively control these hazards and that these measures are reviewed as appropriate
  • provide evidence that all food handlers are supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters in order that they produce food that is safe to eat

The Food Standards Agency has produced systems to help create a documented food safety management system - Safer food better business

These are suitable for many types of food business, but not all.

Small food manufacturing businesses may find MyHACCP useful. MyHACCP is a free web tool that will guide you through the process of developing a food safety management system based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles.

If you would like further advice from the food safety team, please complete the Food hygiene advice requests form.

Food hygiene advice requests online form

Improve your rating?

All businesses should be able to get the top rating of five.

To help get this you should:

  • look at your last food hygiene inspection report to check that you've taken all of the actions needed to meet legal requirements - if you can't find your last report, contact us at and we will be able to give you a copy
  • continue making regular routine checks to ensure hygiene standards are being maintained and staff understand and are following the rules, and promptly arrange for any repairs or maintenance of the premises or equipment
  • ensure your documented food safety management system is kept up to date and all necessary records and checks are completed and recorded

If you don't get the top rating and you have queries about the improvements you need to make to get a better rating, then the food safety officer who conducted the inspection will be able to give you advice if you contact us at

The Food Standards Agency has a range of tools that can help you manage food hygiene. You can find out more about these on the food hygiene for businesses page of their website.

Published ratings

After an inspection, the rating will be uploaded by us and published on the food hygiene rating page on the Food Standards Agency website. Ratings of 'five - very good' will be published as soon as the information is uploaded by us. Ratings of zero to four will be published three to five weeks after the date of inspection to allow for an appeal to be submitted.

You can request that a rating is published before the end of the appeal period.

You can email us at or complete the online form.

Publish my rating early, right of reply or make an appeal online form

Food hygiene ratings request early publication, right of reply or make an appeal online form

You must include:

  • details of who you are
  • the name and address of the business
  • your contact information
  • the date of the inspection
  • the rating given

We will review the request and will usually publish the rating early.

To make sure the scheme is fair it includes a number of safeguards.

You can appeal if you think your hygiene rating is wrong - if you believe the rating does not reflect the hygiene standards found at the time of your inspection. You must submit your appeal with your local authority within 14 days - including weekends and bank holidays - of being told what your hygiene rating is. You'll need to make your appeal in writing. You can do this by sending an email to or a letter or you can complete the following online form.

Food hygiene ratings request early publication, right of reply or make an appeal form

You can submit a right to reply if you've improved hygiene standards since your inspection, or if there were unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection and you want to explain this to your customers. You can include your comments in an email or letter, or you can download and complete the following online form.

Food hygiene ratings request early publication, right of reply or make an appeal form

We will publish your comments alongside your rating at

You can ask for a re-inspection to get a new rating if you make the improvements to hygiene standards that the food safety officer told you about at your last inspection. You'll need to do this in writing and supply evidence of the improvements made. You can make your request by email or letter you can download and complete the following online form.

Food hygiene re-inspection request form

The food safety officer will re-assess hygiene standards and give you a new rating - this could go up but it could stay the same or it could go down.

Displaying your rating is good for your business

Displaying your rating sticker by putting it in a place where your customers can easily see it, for example, in a window or on the door, reassures customers that your business takes food hygiene seriously. If you've lost, damaged or misplaced your sticker please contact us at and we can provide you with a new one.

Food Standards Agency research has shown that people are becoming more aware of the food hygiene rating scheme and customers are actively looking for hygiene rating stickers when they are out and about.

There's a profit to be made - an increasing number of food businesses are displaying their hygiene rating stickers and more than a third of them say that this is having a positive impact. This includes greater customer confidence, a better reputation among customers and, most importantly, more customers.

There are some other straightforward, cost-effective tips to help you get the most out of your hygiene rating in the ‘How to guide which is available on the Food Standards Agency website. This includes downloadable images allowing ratings to be easily included on menus, promotional materials and your website.