Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme provides consumers with information about hygiene standards in food business establishments at the time they are inspected to check compliance with legal requirements on food hygiene. The food hygiene rating given reflects the inspection findings. 

The purpose of the scheme is to allow consumers to make informed choices about the places where they eat out or shop for food and, through these choices, encourage businesses to improve their hygiene standards. The overarching aim is to reduce the incidence of food-borne illness and the associated costs to the economy.

 The scheme is a Food Standards Agency/local authority partnership initiative to provide consumers with at-a-glance information about hygiene standards in food businesses found during planned inspections. The aim is to help the public make informed choices about where they eat out or shop for food. Having a single scheme in place will help ensure consistency for businesses both within and across local authority boundaries.

The food hygiene scheme will help you choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving you information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, hotels, and other places you eat out. Supermarkets and other food shops are also included in the scheme.

 Ratings

There are six different food hygiene ratings (‘0’ up to ‘5’) - the top rating (5) represents a ‘very good’ level of compliance with legal requirements and all businesses irrespective of the nature or size of their operation should be able to achieve this. When you eat out or shop for food, you will see a sticker on the window or on the door showing you the hygiene rating for that business. Businesses must display the rating at or near the entrance to the premises in a location where they can be readily seen and easily read by customers before they enter the premises when it is open for business.   Food hygiene ratings for all local authorities taking part in the scheme are published online at www.food.gov.uk/ratings 

Ratings Explained

 Inspections - When carrying out a food hygiene inspection an Environmental Health officer (EHO) will consider the following elements, which will then determine the business’ food hygiene rating: 

 Hygiene – how the food is prepared, cooked, reheated, cooled and stored.

 Structure - The condition of the structure of the buildings – including the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities, also includes the cleanliness and condition of equipment.

 Confidence in management - How food safety within the business is managed and how the business records what it does to make sure food is safe.

 Following inspections, EHOs will provide you with your business’ rating and, if you didn’t get the top rating, information on the improvements you need to make.  This will be detailed in an inspection report.  Following notification of your food hygiene rating and once the period allowed for appeal has ended (21 days after you receive the notification), your rating, as well as additional information on the ‘ratings breakdown’ for your business, will be published on the Food Standards Agency website at: www.food.gov.uk/ratings. 

 The rating is notified to a Food Business Operator within 14 days from the date of inspection.  The number of ‘days’ includes weekends and bank holidays.

The food safety officer will explain to the person who owns or manages the business what improvements are needed and how they can achieve the top rating of '5'. The local authority will check that these improvements are made.

 The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme has been designed to make sure that the ratings given to businesses are fair.

Information for Businesses

Display of Rating

As of 7 October 2016, following notification of your rating you are legally required to display the sticker provided by your district council.  You will need to do this 21 days from the date you receive notification. 

By law, you must display the sticker at or near each entrance to your premises that is available for use by customers. 

Stickers must be displayed in a location where they can be readily seen and easily read by customers before they enter the establishment when it is open for business.

Informing the Customer

Under the Act you and your relevant employees e.g. front of house staff, must also tell customers, if asked, the rating the business has received.  This applies in a face to face situation as well as over the phone. 

Removal of Sticker when a new rating is given

You must remove your food hygiene rating sticker from display, and destroy it, once it is no longer valid.  The sticker will no longer be valid 21 days following notification of a new rating, where the rating has changed, or when there has been a change in ownership of the business. 

Failure to Display Your Rating Sticker

It is an offence not to display your sticker.  If you fail to display your sticker, display an incorrect sticker or mislead customers in relation to the food hygiene rating, Ards and North Down Borough Council can take enforcement action.  This may be through the use of fixed penalties notices. 

A fixed penalty notice will offer the opportunity for a person to pay a penalty of £200 within a period of 28 days, from the day that the penalty notice is given, or a reduced penalty of £150 if payment is made with 14 days.  The Food Hygiene Rating Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 also allows for prosecution where necessary through a Magistrates Court.

Not Happy With Your Rating?

If you are not happy with the food hygiene rating you have been awarded, you should contact the inspecting officer to discuss your concerns. If the issue cannot be resolved at that stage, you also have 3 further options to consider:

  • Request a Re-Rating Inspection
  • Exercise your "Right of Reply"
  • Lodge an Appeal

Each of these options is outlined further below.

Request a Re-Rating Inspection

As the Food Business operator of the establishment you can make a request to Ards and North Down Borough Council to carry out a re-rating inspection if you have made improvements identified at the time of the inspection.

  • Your request must be made in writing and you must provide evidence on the improvements that have been made to the hygiene standards.
  • You must continue to display your current rating sticker as required at the time when making the request for a re-rating, until you have been notified of the outcome of the re-rating inspection.
  • You must wait until the end of the 21 days appeal period before applying for a re-rating inspection. Any re-rating inspection form received before the appeal period is over will be refused.
  • The re-rating inspection will take place within three months of the request being made, and you will not be informed in advance of the specific date and time of the visit.
  • Although it is anticipated that most re-rating inspection will lead to an improved rating, it is possible for a lower rating to be given if standards have otherwise fallen.
  • There is a charge of £150 for a re-rating inspection and this must accompany the request. Your request for a re-rating will not be accepted without the fee being paid.
  • The application fee is non-refundable so make sure you have all the recommended improvements made and that the appeal period has passed before your apply.

To make a request please use the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme Revisit Form

You can request a form by contacting the Food Safety Team on 0300 013 33 33. 

Please post the completed form accompanied by a cheque for £150 to Ards and North Down Borough Council, 2 Church Street, Newtownards, Co Down, BT23 4AP.

Alternatively, payments can also be made in person at the Council Offices.

Exercise Your "Right of Reply"

The “Right of Reply” allows a Food Business to comment on the rating received.  You can give an update on actions that have been taken following the inspection, or to give any information on particular circumstances at the time of the inspection.
If you wish to use this "Right of Reply" please complete the printable form Food Hygiene Rating Scheme Right of Reply and return it to the Food Safety Team.

Your comments will be reviewed by Ards and North Down Borough Council and may be edited in order to remove offensive or defamatory remarks before being published online and displayed together with your food hygiene rating at www.food.gov.uk/ratings

Lodge an appeal

You have 21 days (including weekend and bank holidays) from the date of receipt of the notification letter to lodge an appeal.

  • Appeals received more than 21 days after notification will not be considered.
  • The Appeal will be considered by an officer who was not involved in the production of the rating that was given.
  • The Appeal will be determined and the decision will be communicated to the Food Business Operator within 21 days from the date the appeal was received.
  • The rating will not be displayed at food.gov.uk/ratings during the 21 day appeal period.  If no appeal is made the rating will be “valid” after the 21 day period has expired.
  • To make an appeal, please complete the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme Appeal Form and return to the Food Safety Team within 21 days of receiving the notification of your rating.