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Durham County Council

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Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is a national scheme run by the Food Standards Agency in partnership with local authorities. The scheme provides consumers with information about hygiene standards in food premises.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme was introduced in County Durham in April 2012. Search for food hygiene ratings in Durham.

A food hygiene rating is given to a food premises when it is inspected by us to check compliance with legal requirements. The purpose of the rating is to allow consumers to make informed choices about the places where they eat out or shop for food, encouraging businesses to improve their hygiene standards. The ratings are available to view on the Food Standards Agency website - food hygiene ratings scheme. Food businesses will be given a sticker to display at their premises.

What types of businesses will be given a rating?

Restaurants, takeaways, cafes, sandwich shops, pubs, hotels, home caterers, supermarkets and other retail food outlets are included in the scheme. Any other business where consumers can eat or buy food or where public access is limited but where food is prepared, cooked, or handled and served to consumers, such as schools, nurseries and residential care homes will also be given a rating.

How are businesses rated?

Businesses are rated with an overall score of 0 to 5. The top rating is 5 which means the hygiene standards are very good.  The bottom rating is 0 which indicates urgent improvement is needed.

How is the rating worked out?

To achieve the best score possible, a food business will need to meet high standards in three areas which cover:

  • How hygienically the food is handled - how it is prepared, cooked, reheated, cooled and stored.
  • The condition of the structure of the premises - including the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities.
  • How the business manages and records what it does to make the food safe using a system like Safer Food Better Business (a documented food safety management system based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point).

Are there any exemptions?

Not all businesses are given a rating. This is because some businesses, for example a newsagent selling sweets, are a low risk to people's health and so are not included in the scheme. Certain establishments operating from private addresses are also exempt such as childminders and other caring services. The details of these premises will be treated as sensitive and are not published on the website, you can find out more on the Food Standards Agency website. 

These businesses are said to be 'exempt' from the scheme.

Are there any businesses which are excluded?

Businesses that do not provide food directly to the final consumer are not included in the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. These include manufacturers, packers, importers, exporters, transporters and distributors of food.

What safeguards are available to ensure ratings are fair?

If a food business is not happy with the food hygiene rating they have been awarded they should contact us to discuss their concerns. If the issue cannot be resolved at this stage, there are three further options to consider: an appeal; a right to reply; and an opportunity to request a revisit when improvements have been carried out in order to be reassessed for a new rating. The Food Standards Agency: business safeguards leaflet provides further information. 

How to appeal

Download and complete the Food hygiene rating scheme appeal form (PDF, 235kb).

How to exercise your right to reply

Download and complete the Food hygiene rating scheme - right to reply form (PDF, 76kb).

How to request a re-visit

Download and complete the Food hygiene rating scheme - request for a revisit form (PDF, 79kb).

Food Hygiene Rating - Helping you choose where to eat out

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  • Food Hygiene Rating - Helping you choose where to eat out