Food Hygiene Rating Scheme FAQ's

Q1: Is there a charge to use the Food hygiene rating service?
Q2: What are the benefits to the public?
Q3: What are the benefits to the food business?
Q4: What happens if I can't find a food business?
Q5: Searching for a business on the FSA website?
Q6: Who decides what rating local food businesses get?
Q7: Do food businesses have to publicly display their 'Food hygiene rating' certificate and sticker?
Q8: How do I know if the certificate and sticker on display are valid and genuine?
Q9: I am an owner of a food business and have just had a food hygiene inspection, but I disagree with the food hygiene rating score issued to me. Can I make an appeal against it?
Q10: Can food businesses make a request to have their food hygiene rating reassessed?
Q11: Is there a charge to food businesses requesting a reassessment of their food hygiene rating?
Q12: Do food businesses have a "right to reply" concerning their food hygiene rating?
Q13: Where can I find further information or advice?
Q14: How often are food businesses visited by Environmental Health staff


Q1: Is there a charge to use the Food hygiene rating service?

No, there is no charge to use this service. The information is provided to the public by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Q2: What are the benefits to the public?

We hope that the scheme will drive up standards of food safety within premises and give the public the opportunity to make an informed choice about where they choose to eat or buy food based on food safety and hygiene standards. The information is also accessible to the public in an easy to understand format.

Q3: What are the benefits to the food business?

The scheme serves as a good advertisement for those food businesses that practice high standards of hygiene. This in turn may lead to an increase in business and reward food business owners for their effort. Currently over 200 local authorities throughout the country are taking part in the scheme, using the same scoring and ratings system to ensure consistency.

Q4: What happens if I can't find a food business?

If you have searched for a business on the FSA's website and it does not appear, it could be that the business is new and is still waiting to be assessed. Also food businesses that do not sell food to the final consumer, such as food manufacturers, wholesalers and some low risk food businesses, such as newsagents and chemists, will not appear on the website because they are excluded from the scheme. Alternatively, the business may have only recently been inspected or reassessed and is waiting for a new rating. As soon as it is rated, we will publish the results on the web. This is updated every two weeks.

Q5: Searching for a business on the FSA website?

Log onto the FSA website Fill in the search boxes with as much information as you like. You do not need to fill out every box.

For example, type in the name of the business or the street name you are looking for or area. Or you can retrieve by food hygiene rating or just area.

Q6: Who decides what rating local food businesses get?

Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) employed by the Council decide the score/rating of each food business following a planned food hygiene inspection. Inspections generally take place between every six months to two years, depending on the nature of the business and history of compliance with food law.

Q7: Do food businesses have to publicly display their 'Food hygiene rating' certificate and sticker?

No. There is no legal requirement for businesses to publicly display their certificate or sticker. We do, however, strongly encourage them to do so. However, it is easy to find out a food businesses' score/rating by checking the FSA website. You can always call the Council's Environmental Health team on telephone number 01784 446291.

Q8: How do I know if the certificate and sticker on display are valid and genuine?

Following a food hygiene inspection the previous certificate and sticker will be collected by the inspecting officer. Each certificate and sticker includes the FSA's and Council's logos and has a unique number on the front. In addition, the website will offer a list of food businesses and their scores.

Q9: I am an owner of a food business and have just had a food hygiene inspection, but I disagree with the food hygiene rating score issued to me. Can I make an appeal against it?

Yes, you have a right of appeal. Any appeal, preferably in writing or by e-mail, should be made to the Environmental Health Manager (Commercial) within 14 calendar days of the date you were first notified of your food hygiene rating score, setting out the specific reasons for the disagreement. Appeals received after this time limit will not be considered and the original food hygiene rating will stand. The Environmental Health Manager (Commercial) will inform you of his/her decision within seven calendar days of you lodging the appeal.

Q10: Can food businesses make a request to have their food hygiene rating reassessed?

Yes provided the business has a rating score between 0 and 4. Normally requests for a reassessment of a food hygiene rating should be in writing. Although requests for a reassessment visit can be made by the owner of the business at any time after an inspection, the timing of the visit is a decision for the EHO. Usually such visits should not take place until 3 months have elapsed since the last inspection took place. If an owner makes a request for a reassessment visit after this first 3 months has passed then the EHO must carry out the visit within 3 months of the request being made. If the EHO is satisfied that a real improvement has been made to food hygiene standards, he/she will give a better food hygiene rating to the business.

Q11: Is there a charge to food businesses requesting a reassessment of their food hygiene rating?

No.

Q12: Do food businesses have a "right to reply" concerning their food hygiene rating?

Yes. The website includes a 'right to reply' section for local authorities to add comments made by food business owners in their area. The purpose of the "right to reply" is to give owners a chance to indicate any improvement that has been made since the last food hygiene inspection. However, right to replies will only be put on the website following agreement by the local authority. Food business owners in Spelthorne can send their "right to reply" by e-mail or in writing to the Environmental Health Manager (Commercial) using the contact details below.

Q13: Where can I find further information or advice?

For further information contact Environmental Health

Q14: How often are food businesses visited by Environmental Health staff

Food businesses may be routinely visited by Environmental Health staff to ensure they meet food hygiene rules every 6 months to two years, depending on the risks to members of the public. If a food business only sells low risk food, such as drinks, tinned or packaged food, then they will be visited less often. Environmental Health staff may also visit food businesses at other times when they receive complaints from the public