Food hygiene rating scheme

Eating out? Getting food in? Check

The food hygiene rating given to a business reflects the food hygiene standards found at the time of the inspection by local authority food officers. Most businesses that sell or offer food are included in the scheme, but some are not, such as manufacturers and processors, as well as low risk premises which only sell pre-wrapped confectionery.

The hygiene rating is not a guide to food quality, portion size or taste. It is a reflection on the food safety management of the business

Inspections and visits are undertaken by the Commercial Team Environmental Health Officers. When we score a business, we look at:

  • food hygiene and safety - how food is prepared, stored, cooked, reheated and cooled 
  • the condition of the structure of the business, including cleanliness and layout 
  • and judge our confidence in the management to maintain or improve standards 

How does the scheme operate?  

The scheme is run by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in partnership with local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Food businesses are routinely inspected depending on the risk they present. A rating is then given which is published on the FSA's pages. The scheme helps you choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving you clear information about a businesses' hygiene standards.

The scheme gives businesses a rating from 5 to 0, which is displayed at their premises and online so you can make more informed choices about where to buy or eat food.

5 - hygiene standards are very good 
4 - hygiene standards are good 
3 - hygiene standards are generally satisfactory 
2 - some improvement is necessary 
1 - major improvement is necessary 
0 - urgent improvement is required 

You should expect to see a rating sticker displayed at places that have been inspected. Currently in England, businesses do not have to display their ratings. If you do not see a rating, you can ask a member of staff if the business is in the scheme and what their last rating was.

Visit the FSA website for information on businesses in East Cambridgeshire (external link)

In Scotland, you will see the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS) that just has Pass, Improvement Required, Exempt or Awaiting Inspection.

Improving ratings 

If food hygiene standards are found to be very poor, we will take action to protect customers. If there is an imminent risk to health, we may need to close the business until improvements are made. Businesses rated 0 or 1 must make urgent or major improvements to their hygiene standards. We will give advice, as well as undertaking enforcement measures to make sure this happens.

Businesses' right to reply 

The right to reply allows the business to tell the customers how the business has improved its hygiene standards or, if there were unusual circumstances at the time of inspection. This response will be published online, alongside the rating.


A food hygiene rating is given following a full inspection of the business. This is more detailed than a revisit to ensure that discrete work identified in an inspection report has been completed. Therefore, a business may have a low rating for some time after standards have been improved. 

In these situations, a business may choose to apply for a new rating. We charge a fee for such an inspection. For more information, email or call 01353 665555.