Food Standards Agency
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National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme launched

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is today launching a national food hygiene rating scheme that 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, supermarkets, and other places you eat out and buy food.

You can search for food businesses and their hygiene ratings at food.gov.uk/ratings.

As more local authorities roll out the scheme over the coming months, more ratings will be published online.

Stickers in windows

The bright green and black food hygiene stickers showing a rating from zero to five will soon be a feature of shopping centres and high streets, as the FSA, in partnership with local authorities, rolls out its Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The aim is to reduce the one million cases of food poisoning suffered by people each year.

The stickers will show how good the hygiene standards are at places where you can eat or buy food, including restaurants, cafés, takeaways and supermarkets. Following inspections by local council food safety officers, the hygiene standards are rated on a scale. At the top of the scale is ‘5’ – this means the hygiene standards are very good. At the bottom of the scale is ‘0’ – this means urgent improvement is required. A different scheme, with similar aims, is being rolled out by local authorities in Scotland.

The stickers are designed to be displayed somewhere prominent, such as the window of a restaurant. Below is an example of a sticker for a business with a hygiene rating of ‘5’ and ‘very good’ hygiene standards.

In Wales, bilingual stickers are used. These provide information in English and Welsh.

What the public say about hygiene

A snapshot survey, recently carried out for the FSA, indicated that more than eight in 10 members of the public (86%) consider hygiene standards to be extremely important when eating out, significantly outweighing other considerations such as price and location. At least a fifth of people questioned said that they had, when eating out, sent food back for hygiene-related reasons, such as undercooked poultry (23%) and dirty plates (22%), increasing to around one in three who reported sending back undercooked meat (29%).

People interviewed for the FSA research indicated that they primarily judge hygiene standards of places where they eat or buy food on the appearance of an establishment (68%), appearance of staff (44%), cleanliness of toilets (33%) and word of mouth/reputation (22%).

How the scheme will help

The hygiene rating given to a food business will give you a glimpse into the areas that you don’t normally see, to get an idea of what’s going on in the kitchen, or behind the scenes.

Jeff Rooker, Chair of the FSA, said: ‘Many people suffer from food poisoning every year, but we shouldn’t feel we are gambling with our health when we eat out. In developing this scheme, we wanted to give people the ability to judge for themselves whether they considered the hygiene standards of a food outlet to be good enough. If customers are looking for a hygiene rating, this will drive businesses to improve their standards.’

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