On 1 April 2019 Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council will be replaced by a single district council called West Suffolk Council. It will entirely replace the borough and district councils but will continue to deliver the same services while finding improved ways of supporting communities, businesses and the local economy. Over the next few weeks you may notice changes to the website, forms, letters and emails, and there will be limited access to some of our online systems as we prepare for the creation of the new council.
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme helps you choose where to eat out or shop for food. The scheme gives you information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, hotels, and other places you like to go to eat out, as well as supermarkets and other food shops.
You can look up food hygiene ratings at www.food.gov.uk/ratings - you can search for ratings for local businesses and for businesses elsewhere in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The scheme is being run by ourselves in partnership with the Food Standards Agency - the central government department with responsibility for food safety. It gives you information about the hygiene standards in food premises at the time they are inspected by one of our food safety officers, who are checking that they meet legal requirements for food hygiene. The hygiene rating given reflects what the officer finds at the time.
It's not easy to judge hygiene standards on appearance alone so the rating gives you an idea of what's going on in the kitchen, or behind closed doors. You can check the ratings and use the information to choose a place with higher standards. It's also good to share this information with friends and family.
Providing information on hygiene standards in food outlets gives people a wider basis on which to make a choice. It also recognises those businesses with the highest standards and encourages others to improve. The overall aim is to reduce the number of cases of food poisoning which currently affects around one million people in the UK every year.
The scheme helps local people and visitors to the area when deciding where to eat and buy food. The scheme runs nationally which means people can make like for like comparison with businesses in other areas. It also means businesses are treated consistently with local competitors and with their competitors more widely.
Restaurants, takeaways, cafes, sandwich shops, pubs, hotels, supermarkets and other retail food outlets, as well as other businesses where consumers can eat or buy food, are given a hygiene rating as part of the scheme.
Each business is given a rating following an inspection by a food safety officer. This is based on how well the business is meeting the requirements of food hygiene law at that time. The assessment is based on a consideration of the following three elements:
Each of these three elements is essential for making sure that food hygiene standards meet legal requirements and the food served or sold to you is safe to eat.
The rating is only about the hygiene standards of the food business - it is not about the quality of the food or about the standards of service provided to customers.
The food hygiene rating reflects the hygiene standards found at the time the business is inspected by a food safety officer. These officers are specially trained and qualified to assess food hygiene standards.
A business is given one of these ratings:
All businesses should be able achieve the top rating of 5.
The rating given shows how well the business is doing overall but also takes account of the element or elements most in need of improving and also the level of risk to people's health that these issues pose. This is because some businesses will do well in some areas and less well in others but each of the three elements checked is essential for making sure that food hygiene standards meet requirements and the food served or sold to you is safe to eat.
A breakdown of the three elements making up the food hygiene rating for business is also provided with the online rating, this information is available for businesses inspected since April 2016 in England and Northern Ireland and for businesses inspected in Wales since November 2014.
To get the top rating of '5', businesses must do well in all three elements.
Those with ratings of '0' are very likely to be performing poorly in all three elements and are likely to have a history of serious problems. There may, for example, be a lack of sufficient cleaning and disinfection, and the system of management in place may not be enough to ensure the food is always kept safe.
Where a business does not achieve the top rating, the food safety officer will explain to the person that owns or manages the business what improvements are needed.
There may be temporary difference between the rating displayed at a business and online rating for which there are valid reasons such as:
Even if a business achieved the top rating there can be a short delay while the local authority updates the website. Local authorities upload ratings at least every 28 days. If you cannot find a rating for a business then you will need to contact the local authority responsible for rating the business
Businesses received a rating of 4-0 can request an appeal, have a 'right to reply' and can request a re-visit inspection from their local authority
Before making an appeal, business owners or managers should contact the local authority food safety officer first to understand why the rating was given. If the business owner or manager still thinks the rating is unfair or wrong, they can appeal in writing to their local authority. Details on how to do this are included in the notification of rating letter sent to the business.
Download a Food Hygiene Rating Scheme appeal form
The right to reply allows the business to tell customers how the business has improved it's hygiene standards or if there were unusual circumstances at the time of inspection. This response will be published online, alongside the rating, by the local authority.
The business owner/manager can request a re-visit to get a new rating when all the necessary hygiene improvements have been made. From 1 August 2018 we began to charge a fee of £110, to recover the costs of carrying out a revisit inspection.
The charge enables businesses to apply for re-rating at any time following a routine food hygiene inspection and can significantly benefit businesses by removing the current 3-month standstill period. This affords the businesses an opportunity to avoid any negative publicity that may arise from a poor rating being given, which could impact business profitability.
A request for re-rating form must be completed and submitted with the fee. On the form, businesses must clearly state what measures have been taken to rectify the issues identified during the food hygiene inspection. Download a form to request a re-rate visit.
Once the form and the payment have been received, a food safety officer will carry out an unannounced inspection of your business.
Whilst some businesses may perceive that the charge entitles them to 'buy more stars' within the rating system, this is not the case. The charge is for a full inspection and re-rating of their food business, which will be scored against the same criteria and following the same guidance, as the initial inspection. Please be advised that the FHRS rating could drop if improvements have not been made or additional contraventions are identified.
Food hygiene ratings are published at www.food.gov.uk/ratings - you can search for ratings for local businesses and for your businesses, local businesses and for businesses elsewhere in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Businesses are also given a window sticker showing their rating and are encouraged to display these in places where you can easily see them when you visit. In England, display is voluntary at the moment. However, if businesses choose not to display their rating customers may infer that the non-display of the rating sticker is due to the business having received a very poor rating.