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
Jan 2024
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 the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme?

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) 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.

Which businesses will receive an inspection visit and a food hygiene rating?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, businesses that handle and sell food to the public, including:

will receive an inspection visit from the local authority's food safety officer. The purpose of the inspection is to assess their compliance with food hygiene and safety regulations.

Food Hygiene Scheme’s rating scale explained

The food hygiene ratings are determined by inspections carried out by local authorities, based on factors such as cleanliness, food handling, and the management of food safety. 

Each rating reflects the level of food hygiene and safety observed during inspections conducted by local authorities. 

Food hygiene ratings are scored from 5 to 0 and are based on FSA’s point system during the inspection. Here’s a quick overview of what each of the food hygiene ratings mean:

💡 0 - Urgent improvement is required

💡 1 - Major improvement is necessary

💡 2 - Some improvement is necessary 

✅ 3 - Hygiene standards are generally satisfactory

✅ 4 - Hygiene standards are good

⭐ 5 - Hygiene standards are very good

Learn more about each food hygiene rating in detail below:

Rating of 5: Very Good

FSA score: 0 to 15 points

This rating is given to food establishments that demonstrate excellent hygiene standards and a strong commitment to food safety. These businesses have excellent control procedures in place, the staff is well-trained, and there is a thorough management system for monitoring and maintaining hygiene practices. A rating of 5 indicates that the establishment has applied comprehensive food safety measures.

Rating of 4: Good

FSA score: 20 points

A rating of 4 is assigned to food businesses that display good hygiene standards. The premises have satisfactory hygiene controls and practices in place, and compliance with food safety regulations is generally met. Although there may be minor areas for improvement, the establishment takes appropriate steps to ensure safe food handling and maintains a reasonable level of cleanliness and hygiene.

Rating of 3: Generally Satisfactory

FSA score: 25 to 30 points

This rating is given to food establishments that meet the minimum legal requirements for food hygiene. While there may be some areas where improvements are needed, the premises generally manage food safety risks adequately. The rating of 3 signifies that the business is satisfactory in terms of hygiene practices but might require SOME adjustments to ensure full compliance with food safety regulations.

Rating of 2: Improvement Necessary

FSA score: 35 to 40 points

A rating of 2 is given to food businesses that need to make significant improvements in meeting food hygiene standards. These establishments may have several areas of non-compliance, such as poor cleanliness, inadequate training of staff, or insufficient control measures to prevent food contamination. While the premises may not pose an immediate risk, urgent changes are essential to promote a safer environment for handling and serving food.

Rating of 1: Major Improvement is Necessary

FSA score: 45 to 50 points

Food hygiene rating of 1 is assigned to food establishments that have failed to meet adequate food hygiene and safety standards. This rating suggests a serious breach of food safety regulations. The premises may have a lack of basic cleanliness, improperly stored or prepared food, or inadequate pest control measures. These businesses need to make urgent and substantial improvements to address the identified deficiencies. 

Rating of 0: Urgen Improvement is Required

FSA score: 50+ points

This rating implies that the food business has failed to meet baseline hygiene standards and immediate improvements are required. It indicates serious breaches in hygiene practices and poses a risk to public health. Customers should avoid establishments with this rating until the necessary improvements are made.

How to get a food hygiene rating?

The local authorities are responsible for carrying out inspections and, according to FSA, have the right to visit your premises at any reasonable time, meaning they will visit the food establishment. The frequency of their visits will depend on the type of business and its previous results (FSA).

For a new business,

What is an EHO looking for during the food safety inspections?

To receive your food safety 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, check out our guidance for independents and multi-site managers on how to prepare for an EHO visit, or get ready for your visit with our food safety monitoring system.

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.
  • Ensure you also store food at the right temperature keep records of fridge and freezer temperature. With Trail, you can streamline food safety practices. Fridge and freezer temperature logs are woven into your team’s working day so everyone knows what to do and when to do it. Trail can even integrate with the latest fridges to automate readings and save your team time.


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
  • Staff hygiene training should be constantly updated, and in line with any new government guidelines. We can help with onboarding new starters in no time and putting systems in place to ensure they are trained to ace your next food hygiene inspection! Check out our Onboarding & Training templates.

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 tasks 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 day with food safety templates for you and your team. 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.

5 ways Trail can help you get a 5 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, so when the next inspection comes around, the staff is ready to help you achieve a rating of 5.

✅   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 food hygiene rating 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. With Trail, it is easy to implement corrective measures and future-proof your operations to achieve a coveted 5-star food hygiene rating. Say goodbye to sleepless nights worrying about potential hygiene breaches, and say hello to a seamless and foolproof system that will elevate your business to new heights.

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

Managing food hygiene guide

Displaying your food hygiene rating

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

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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