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Food Hygiene Rating Scheme - Help for Businesses

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme provides information about hygiene standards in food premises. The food hygiene rating given reflects the inspection findings.

The scheme allows consumers to make informed choices about the places where they eat out or shop for food, and encourages businesses to improve their hygiene standards. At the time of routine inspection visits your business will be assessed as part of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, with a few exceptions (generally those businesses who do not supply directly to the public or where the primary emphasis of the business is not the service of food).

To determine your hygiene rating your business is assessed on the following:

  • Hygiene and safety procedures (e.g. food handling practices and procedures and temperature control)
  • Structure (e.g. cleaning and disinfection standards, layout, condition of structure, finish, lighting, ventilation, facilities for hygiene such as sinks, size and suitability of the premises for the volume of food produced, refuse storage)
  • Confidence in management (e.g. whether the company has a good record of compliance, acts on previous advice in inspection letters, attitude towards/understanding of management of hygiene and food safety)

If you have concerns over your rating, you can make an appeal, use your right to reply, make a request to revisit or request for early publication of a rating. More information about these safeguards is provided on the FSA’s website.

Appeals

Following a hygiene inspection of your premises, you will be told in writing within 14 days what your food hygiene rating is. You can appeal against the rating if you think it is unfair. You must make your appeal in writing within 21 days of being notified. This period includes weekends and public holidays. If you do not appeal within this time, we will publish your food hygiene rating online at food.gov.uk/ratings within 36 days.

If you do want to appeal, it is a good idea to speak informally to the food safety officer inspected your premises. This will help you to understand how your rating was worked out.

If you still think the rating given is wrong or unfair, you can make an appeal in writing by completing the request for appeal form (below), sending an email to env.health@north-herts.gov.uk or send a letter to PO Box 10613, Nottingham, NG6 6DW.

If you make an appeal, www.food.gov.uk will show that your food hygiene rating is ‘awaiting publication’. The Lead Officer will review your case. The officer that gave the rating will not consider your appeal. You will be notified of the result of the appeal within 21 days from the date that the appeal was received by us. Once you have been notified of the result of your appeal, your rating will be published online at food.gov.uk/ratings.

You can challenge the local authority's decision by judicial review. Your rating will still be published at www.food.gov.uk/ratings.

Right to reply

Your ‘right to reply’ lets you explain to your customers any actions you have taken to improve hygiene standards at your premises since your inspection, or to say if there were unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection that might have affected your rating. It is not an opportunity to complain or criticise the food hygiene rating scheme or your food safety officer.

To use your ‘right to reply’, you should send your comments in writing to the food safety officer that undertook the inspection of your premises. You can do this by completing the right to reply form (below), sending an email to env.health@north-herts.gov.uk or sending a letter to PO Box 10613, Nottingham, NG6 6DW. There is no deadline for this, so you can submit your ‘right to reply’ at any time up until your next inspection.

We may edit your comments in order to remove any offensive, defamatory, clearly inaccurate or irrelevant remarks. It will then be published online together with your hygiene rating at food.gov.uk/ratings. The ‘right to reply’ will remain on the website until you are given a new rating.

Request a revisit

If you make the improvements to hygiene standards that the food safety officer told you about at your last planned inspection, you can ask for a re-visit before the next planned inspection so that the hygiene standards in your premises can be reassessed and a new food hygiene rating is given. You will automatically be given a new food hygiene rating each time your premises are inspected.

Look carefully at the comments that the food safety officer made about the hygiene standards found at your last inspection in the report or letter. You can discuss anything you are unsure about with your food safety officer or ask for further help on how to make improvements.

You can only have one revisit between the local authority’s planned inspections of your premises. During the re-visit the officer will be looking at standards generally – not just at the specific areas you have been working to improve – so your hygiene rating could well go up, down or remain the same.

To request a re-visit, complete the revisit request form (below), send an email to env.health@north-herts.gov.uk or send a letter to PO Box 10613, Nottingham, NG6 6DW. If the request is refused, you will be given an explanation of why and advice on any action you need to take, or evidence you need to provide before your request can be agreed.

If you do not agree refusal of your request, you can raise the matter with the Lead Officer for Food. If you cannot resolve matters with the Lead Officer for Food, you can use the complaints procedure. There is no deadline for this - you can ask at any time after you’ve taken action to make the necessary improvements that were identified at your inspection.

A revisit will not usually take place in the first three months following the inspection at which you were given your food hygiene rating. If you were required only to make structural improvements or repairs or to upgrade equipment, we may carry out the requested re-visit sooner than this. If you make your request during those first three months, you can expect a revisit within six months of the inspection but you will not be told a specific date and time. If you make your request later than three months after your inspection, you can expect a re-visit within three months. You will not be given a specific date and time.

At the revisit, the food safety officer will assess the standards of hygiene at your premises and you will be told in writing within 14 days what your new food hygiene rating is. This could stay the same as before, it could go up, or it could down. Your new rating will be published on the FSA's website up to 36 days after the date of the rescore visit.

Request for early publication of rating

After an inspection, the rating will be published on www.food.gov.uk/ratings. Ratings of '5 - very good' will be published as soon as the information is uploaded. Ratings of 0 – 4 will be published 36 days after the date of inspection/rescore visit to allow for an appeal to be submitted.

The business owner or manager can request that a rating is published before the end of the appeal period. This request must be made in writing to us. You can use the early publication of rating form (below), email us at env.health@north-herts.gov.uk. or you can send a letter to PO Box 10613, Nottingham, NG6 6DW. 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 usually publish the rating early. 

Attachments

Appeal form

Right to reply form