What's a food hygiene rating and how can I improve mine?

Follow this simple food hygiene rating guide and achieve top marks every time.
Michael Radley
Oct 2021
4 min read

With customers more aware of food safety than ever, you need a top score on the door to protect the reputation you’ve built.

What is a food hygiene rating?

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is run by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The food hygiene rating—chosen on a scale of 0 to 5—illustrates a venue’s food safety, taking into account everything from food handling to how ingredients are stored, and of course, general hygiene.

Displaying your rating is compulsory in Wales and Northern Ireland, and it’s only a matter of time before England joins them. JustEat have already listed the rating for all their restaurants in the app. So, it’s crucial your business gets top marks.

What is an EHO looking for?

To receive your rating, an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will visit your premises to carry out a hygiene inspection. EHO’s focus on the following 3 areas:

  1. Food hygiene compliance – assessing how food is handled, prepared, cooked and stored.
  2. Structural compliance – measuring how clean the building and facilities are, and whether the lighting is suitable.
  3. Confidence in management – judging whether staff are trained correctly, and what procedures are in place.

Make sure you're EHO-ready with Trail.

Managing food hygiene guide

How to get a food hygiene rating of 5

If you perform well in all three areas, you will be awarded the top score. Here are some simple steps you can follow to ensure your business achieves “scores on the doors” greatness:

Food preparation

Take the following measures to ensure cross-contamination doesn’t occur during food prep:

  • Avoid washing raw and ready-to-eat foods in the same sink.
  • If you have a large kitchen, separate workspaces for raw meat, fish, vegetables and ready-to-eat food.
  • If your kitchen is too small for separate sinks/workspaces, establish a food-preparation schedule where you have dedicated times to prep different types of food.
  • Make sure the areas and utensils are thoroughly cleaned between each stage of preparation.

Food storage

Your food storage system should keep raw foods and ready-to-eat foods completely separate:

  • Make sure you have a clearly labelled storage system with use-by dates displayed.
  • Store food on racks and never on the floor.


This one might seem obvious, but regular and thorough cleaning is vital for a top food hygiene rating:

  • Maintain a cleaning schedule to make sure routine cleaning jobs take place, and the standard of cleaning is consistent.
  • Sanitise the handwashing sink and ensure you’re stocked up on antibac and blue handroll.
  • Use blue roll and sanitiser to clean work surfaces as cloths that are used more than once can spread bacteria, causing cross-contamination.

Staff training

Training staff on how to safely prepare food can reduce the risk of contamination. Training should include:

  • Food hygiene, personal hygiene, food handling, responsibilities and best handwashing practices
  • Training should be constantly updated, and in line with any new government guidelines—particularly important during the pandemic.

Record keeping

Even if you carry out all of the above steps, you won’t receive a top food hygiene rating unless you maintain a secure record, so you need the following:

  • Records of your food safety policy, daily checks, risk assessments and staff training files.

All of the above can be quite hard to remember. We get it. But don’t worry, we have a library full of food safety checklists to help you stay on top.

How would you feel if an EHO walked in right now?

Even with the best intentions, paper checks, spreadsheets, and email chains can make it hard to know exactly what’s being done on-site every day. Especially if you manage your team remotely.

Trail takes the guesswork (and the paperwork) out of your food safety. Simple digital tasks are assigned to teams throughout their day. And your business gets a daily performance score. So you can resolve any problems and improve your food hygiene rating before your next EHO inspection.

Try Trail for free! And if you're not convinced, keep reading...

5 ways Trail can help you get a five food hygiene rating:

✅   Perfect record keeping – Trail is a complete historical record of all activity, time and date stamped with evidence attached where needed.

✅   Build the right habits – Trail tells the right person at the right time what needs doing, so good hygiene becomes second nature.

✅   Visibility – Daily reports and scores give managers peace of mind that everything is being done correctly.

✅   Improve staff knowledge Tips, videos and guides can be added to any task to make sure they are always completed correctly.

✅   Boost your score – Turn any actions from your previous inspections into daily tasks to make sure you get a top food hygiene rating at the next inspection.

Discover even more ways Trail can help you level up your compliance.

Managing food hygiene guide

What customers are saying

"I f****** love Trail, it's taking my businesses to the next level."
Josh Paterson
"We rarely provide training to our guys, they just bought into the idea straight away. I love that I have a full visual of everyone's activity in front of me."
Katrin Toots
Compliance Manager
“It’s not a paper diary that’s covered in barbecue sauce. We have clarity over what’s done in our sites and are confident going into our audits.”
Jay Brown
“The EHO visited almost every site last year and every store was given a five star rating."
Jay Brown
Operations Chef
"We turned our Costa Checks and various compliance forms into regular tasks on Trail, which has contributed to some of the best scores we have had."
Delroy Daniels
Operations Director
"Our teams love it, it gives our managers of all levels absolute clarity on what they need to achieve every day."
James Brown
Operations Director

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