Displaying food hygiene ratings: everything you need to know

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) display sign has become a familiar image along the high streets across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The sign is a simple but effective way of letting potential customers knows about the hygiene standards of any business dealing with the provision of food. The national scheme operates voluntarily in England and Northern Ireland and is statutory in Wales.

Displaying food hygiene ratings

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Six years on display

The scheme has been in operation since 2010 and is administered by local authorities in conjunction with the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The food hygiene rating is on a range from zero to five, with zero signifying that urgent improvements are necessary and five reflecting an extremely high hygiene standard.

The areas of consideration

A local authority food safety officer allocates the hygiene rating and takes three main areas into consideration:

1. How hygienically produce is handled.
2. The cleanliness, ventilation and lighting of the building in which food is prepared.
3. How food is stored and maintained safely.

These categories must all be assessed before a rating can be allocated to the company serving or selling food.

The FSA believes the scheme has ensured that businesses have upped their hygiene game and has significantly reduced the levels of foodborne illnesses. It has also empowered customers to make informed choices about the best, most hygienic places from which to purchase food. Many bigger businesses invest in commercial warewashers such as those supplied by to maximise the hygienic standards of dishware used in food preparation and service.

View online

Most businesses advertise their food hygiene rating on their websites; therefore, it is extremely easy to check out how hygienic a company is before committing to purchase. If a business does not display its rating, this may lead a potential customer to speculate about the possible reasons why and negatively impact the establishments sales. The FSA’s advice to all businesses is to prominently display their ratings both on the premises and on their websites.

Ultimately, everyone benefits from the scheme, as food outlet cleanliness is kept in check and customers can make informed decisions about where they purchase. In a highly-competitive food market, it makes sense for all food providers to strive for the highest rating to ensure they keep customers happy.

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