In the hospitality industry, hygiene standards are really important – more and more customers are choosing where to eat based on food hygiene, so it’s vital for the reputation and longevity of your business as well as the health & safety of your customers.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) is in place across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and provides customers with insights into the hygiene practices of food businesses to give them peace of mind and confidence in the places they decide to eat. So, we’re here to tell you more about the scheme and understand its implications.

What is the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS)?

The FHRS is designed to assess the hygiene standards of food businesses and covers a wide range of factors that are considered when it comes to safe food handling. From food preparation to storage and the condition of premises to hygiene management, every aspect is scrutinised by the Environmental Health Officer (EHO) that carries out the inspection to see where you’re up to with legal standards. Then, you’re rated on a scale from 0 to 5, with 5 representing excellent hygiene standards. This rating is published by the local authority online.

While most food businesses go through the FHRS, some types of businesses are exempt from the scheme, such as those in primary production or food distribution.

What does the EHO assess?

  1. How hygienically food is handled – including food preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage.
  2. The condition and structure of the working premises – including how clean it is, what condition it is in, pest control, lighting and ventilation to name a few.
  3. How food safety is managed within the working environment – including food safety procedures, HACCP, training and record keeping to ensure good hygiene is maintained.

It’s worth noting that, while businesses in Wales and Northern Ireland are legally obliged to display their ratings, this requirement isn’t in place in England yet.

Why is it important to have a top food hygiene rating?

Research from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) found that the food hygiene rating scheme really is being used by customers when choosing a business to spend their money at. 85% of respondents were aware of the hygiene standards in the places they eat out at. Food hygiene ratings stickers and the general appearance of the business were shown to be the most common ways customers assessed this. As well as this, venue with a food hygiene rating of 5 is more likely to have better staff retention and more loyal customers. Allowing your hygiene standards to slip can be in terms of business reputation, but can also impact customers’ health.

But the good news is that a food hygiene rating of 5 is totally achievable! Carry on reading to find out how…

How do you achieve a top food hygiene rating?

Not sure how you can improve your business and achieve that 5/5 rating? Here’s our top tips:

  • Ensure staff have good personal hygiene practices and have received appropriate training for their role
  • Ensure you have a good and well implemented food safety management system that is based on HACCP principles
  • Prevent cross-contamination
  • Ensure premises are clean and pest free
  • Keep records up to date and accurate

It’s not just about your business, either – it’s important to make sure your suppliers have good food hygiene standards and overall compliance, so you don’t face any reputational damage or, in worst-case scenarios, prosecutions. Find out more about the support we offer on supply chain assurance here.

Appealing your rating

If you do get a less-than-good rating, there are three safeguards in place to help you out if you think your rating is unfair, or if you feel your hygiene standards at the time of inspection were judged incorrectly. These are the right to appeal, the right to reply and the right to request a revisit. Let’s take a look at each one.

Appeal process

If you want to appeal, you’ve got 14 days from the date you were given the rating (including weekends and public holidays) to do so. Once the appeal is received by your local authority, your business will appear on the Food Hygiene Ratings website as ‘awaiting publication’. Then, your case will be reviewed by the lead EHO – the EHO who gave the initial rating won’t be involved in the consideration of your appeal.

Right to reply

The right to reply allows you to explain to your customers any actions you’ve taken to improve hygiene standards since your inspection, such as those required by the EHO, or to comment on any unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection that might’ve had a negative impact on your rating.

Requesting a revisit

Once you’ve made the improvements requested by the local authority, you can request a revisit before the next planned inspection in order for you to be re-rated. But remember – there’s no guarantee that your rating will go up, and it may even drop.

Making the most of your food hygiene rating

Once you’ve achieved your top food hygiene rating, it’s time to shout about it! Display it where your customers can see it easily, like in a window or on your door. If it can be seen before entering the premises, it reassures your customers that you take food hygiene seriously.

You could also display it on your website, promotional flyers, advertisements and your social media.

How can Food Alert help you?

With everything the hospitality industry has been through over the past few years, a poor food hygiene rating or an unexpected hygiene breach is definitely the last thing you need. Food Alert, you can gain a food hygiene rating of 5 which in turn will increase customer confidence in your business and attract more customers through your doors.

Our Alert65 safety compliance software gives you the power to manage your safety procedures and reduce your exposure to risk. With Alert65 you can:

  • Customise food safety to meet your needs
  • Invest in your people and manage their training from one location
  • Manage food safety easily using user friendly modules such as HACCP, allergen management, food complaints and supplier management
  • Create checklists to monitor your key processes and procedures
  • Manage and store your safety documentation centrally so everyone is using the most up to date information – perfect for showing the EHO assessing your business

With over 30 years’ experience and partnerships with key players like UKHospitality, we’re the hospitality industry’s safety provider of choice. Call us today on 020 7244 1900 to discover how we can help your business.




Food Safety, General, Health & Safety