Skip to main content
Dudley Council
Dudley Skyline

Eating out? Getting food in? Check the food hygiene rating.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme helps you choose where to eat out or shop for food. The scheme gives you information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafés, takeaways, hotels, and other places you like to go to eat out, as well as supermarkets and other food shops. When ordering food online, check that the business has a food hygiene rating and use their rating to help you choose. This can be checked on the Food Standards Agency website or by asking the seller directly.

How does the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme work?

The scheme is run by Dudley Council in partnership with the Food Standards Agency, the independent government department with responsibility for food safety)The scheme gives you information about the hygiene standards in food premises at the time they are inspected by one of our food safety officersThe hygiene rating given reflects the standards of food hygiene found at the time of inspection. It is the responsibility of the business to comply with food hygiene law at all times.

Why is the scheme important?

Providing information on hygiene standards in food businesses allows you to make informed choices about where to buy and eat foodThe scheme recognises those businesses with the highest standards and encourages others to improveThe overall aim is to help reduce the number of cases of food poisoning which currently affects around one million people in the UK every year.

The scheme helps residents and visitors to the borough decide where to eat and buy food. The scheme runs across England, Wales and Northern Ireland which means people can make like for like comparison with businesses in other areasIt also means businesses are treated consistently with local competitors and with their competitors more widely.

Which businesses are given a rating?

Restaurants, takeaways, cafés, sandwich shops, pubs, hotels, supermarkets, other retail food outlets, and online food businesses, and other businesses where consumers can eat or buy food.

How is the rating calculated?

Each business is given a rating following an inspection by a food safety officer. This is based on how well the business is meeting the requirements of food hygiene law at that time of the inspection. The assessment is based on the following elements:

  • how hygienically the food is handled - safe food preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage
  • the condition of the structure of the premises - cleanliness, repair, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities
  • how the business manages what it does to make sure food is safe and so that the officer can be confident standards will be maintained in the future

Each of these elements is essential for making sure that food hygiene standards meet requirements and the food served or sold to you is safe to eat.

The food hygiene rating scheme does not provide information on the following factors:

  • quality of the food
  • customer service
  • culinary skill
  • presentation
  • comfort

What are the different ratings?

A business is given a rating from 5 to 0:

Food Hygiene Rating 5 - very good

5 - very good

Food Hygiene Rating 4 - good

4 - good

Food Hygiene Rating 3 - generally satisfactory

3 - generally satisfactory

Food Hygiene Rating 2 - improvement necessary

2 - improvement necessary

Food Hygiene Rating 1 - major improvement necessary

1 - major improvement necessary

Food Hygiene Rating 0 - urgent improvement necessary

0 - urgent improvement necessary

All businesses should be able to achieve the top rating of 5.

The rating given shows how well the business is doing overallThe rating also takes account of the areas most in need of improvement and the level of risk to people’s health that these issues poseSome businesses will do well in some areas and less well in others but each of the three elements checked is essential for making sure that food hygiene standards meet requirements and the food served or sold to you is safe to eat.

To get the top rating of ‘5’, businesses must do well in all three elements.

Those with ratings of ‘0’ are very likely to be performing poorly in all three elements and are likely to have a history of serious problems.

Where a business does not achieve the top rating, the food safety officer will explain to the person that owns or manages the business what improvements are needed.

Where will the food hygiene rating be displayed?

You can find food hygiene ratings at the Food Standards Agency where you can search for ratings for local businesses and for businesses elsewhere in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Businesses get a window sticker showing their rating and are encouraged to display this at their premises where you can easily see it when you visitIn England, display is voluntary, so not all businesses may put their sticker up in the window or on the door but, if you don’t see it, you can ask them.

You can find out more about the scheme at the FSA website.

What does a business need to do to get the top food hygiene rating?

All business should be able to get the top rating of 5.

To get this, you must be able to demonstrate very good compliance with legal requirements for food hygiene.

The level of compliance will be assessed by the food safety officer when your business is inspected.

How is this assessed?

Your food hygiene rating is based on the level of compliance in three areas:

  • how hygienically the food is handled - safe food preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage
  • the condition of the structure of the premises - cleanliness, repair, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities
  • how you manage what you do to make sure food is safe and so that the officer can be confident standards will be maintained in the future

How can a business demonstrate that food is handled hygienically?

You can do this by showing, for example, that:

  • there are high standards of personal hygiene of staff – for example, clean over clothing (such as aprons), appropriate headwear, minimal jewellery and regular and appropriate hand-washing
  • control measures are in place to prevent cross contamination – for example, use of separate areas and equipment for handling and preparing raw and cooked foods, and correct use of appropriate cleaning chemicals
  • foods are stored at the correct temperature – for example, food stored in fridges is maintained at less than 8°C and that the chill chain is protected
  • foods are properly cooked, re-heated and cooled – for example, foods are cooked to 75°C or hotter and are checked visually for signs of thorough cooking, and foods are cooled quickly to 8°C or below and kept at a safe temperature until used

What about the condition and structure of the premises?

There should, for example, be:

  • a suitable structure which is clean and in good repair throughout
  • adequate natural/artificial lighting and ventilation
  • adequate proofing against pest entry
  • adequate facilities including wash basins, toilet(s) and, where necessary, sink(s)

How does a business manage documents on what it does to make sure food is safe?

It is a legal requirement for most food businesses to provide documentary evidence that the food they produce is safe. This should:

  • identify and show an understanding of the food safety hazards (microbiological, physical, chemical and allergens) within the business
  • provide evidence that measures have been taken to effectively control these hazards and that these measures are reviewed as appropriate
  • provide evidence that all food handlers are supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters in order that they produce food that is safe to eat

The Food Standards Agency has produced the Safer Food Better Business systems, to help create a documented food safety management system for many types of food business, but not all.

  • Caterers - small catering businesses such as restaurants, cafés and takeaways that have registered with the local authority as a food business.
  • Retailers - small retail businesses that sell food, including any food that needs to be kept cold to keep it safe, e.g. milk, dairy products, cooked meats, salads, desserts or sandwiches
  • Indian cuisine - small catering businesses such as restaurants and takeaways that serve Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan cuisines
  • Chinese cuisine in English - small catering businesses such as restaurants and takeaways that serve Chinese cuisine
  • Chinese cuisine in Cantonese - small catering businesses such as restaurants and takeaways that serve Chinese cuisine
  • Childminders - for registered childminders or child carers on domestic premises who usually provide meals and drinks for the children in their care
  • Residential Care Homes - supplement for small residential care homes that prepare and cook food for the residents in their care. This supplement is not intended for use in nursing homes. Nursing homes require other food safety procedures that are not covered by SFBB, for example a full infection control policy
  • Teaching resources for colleges - teaching resources for catering students intended to promote understanding of food safety management and Safer Food Better Business (SFBB)

For each pack, you can download the full pack or download specific sections as you need them.

The caters SFBB pack can also be ordered directly from this department for £20. Please ensure that you specify the address where you wish the pack to be sent to.

If you are unsure which information pack is suitable for your business, please contact the food safety team at Food.DUE@dudley.gov.uk

How can a business improve its rating?

All businesses should be able to get the top rating of 5. To help get this you should:

  • look at your last food hygiene inspection report to check that you've taken all of the actions needed to meet legal requirements - if you can’t find your last report, contact us at food.DUE@dudley.gov.uk and we will be able to give you a copy
  • continue making regular routine checks to ensure hygiene standards are being maintained and staff understand and are following the rules, and promptly arrange for any repairs or maintenance of the premises or equipment
  • ensure your documented food safety management system is kept up to date and all necessary records and checks completed and recorded

If you don’t get the top rating and you have questions about the improvements you need to make to get a better rating, then the food safety officer will be able to give you advice.

The Food Standards Agency has a range of tools that can help you manage food hygiene. You can find out more at their website.

Published ratings

After an inspection, the rating will be uploaded by the local authority and published on the Food Hygiene ratings website. Ratings of ‘5 – very good’ will be published as soon as the information is uploaded by us. Ratings of 0-4 will be published 3-5 weeks after the date of inspection to allow for an appeal to be submitted.

Publishing ratings early

You can request that a rating is published before the end of the appeal period. This request must be made in writing to us at Food.DUE@dudley.gov.uk. You must include:

  • details of who you are
  • the name and address of the business
  • your contact information
  • the date of inspection
  • the rating given

We will review the request and will usually publish the rating early. You can email us at Food.DUE@dudley.gov.uk or complete the FHRS early publication of a rating form below and send it to us.

Making sure the scheme is fair

To make sure the scheme is fair it includes a number of safeguards.

You can appeal if you think your hygiene rating is wrong – if you believe the rating does not reflect the hygiene standards found at the time of your inspectionYou must submit your appeal with your local authority within 21 days, including weekends and bank holiday, of being told what your hygiene rating is. You’ll need to make your appeal in writing. You can do this by sending us an email or a letter or you can download and complete the form below and send it to us.

You can submit a right of reply if you’ve improved hygiene standards since your inspection, or if there were unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection and you want to explain this to your customers. You can include your comments in an email or letter, or you can download and complete the form and send that to us. We will publish your comments alongside your rating at the food hygiene ratings website.

You can ask for re-inspection to get a new rating if you make the improvements to hygiene standards that the food safety officer told you about at your last inspection. You’ll need to do this in writing and supply evidence of the improvements made. You can make your request by email or letter or you can complete the FHRS request for a revisit form below and return it to us.

Dudley Council is currently charging £184.88 for carrying out requests for re-visits. Payment can be made online.

The food safety officer will re-assess hygiene standards and give you a new rating – this could go up but it could stay the same or it could go down.

Displaying your rating is good for business

Displaying your rating sticker by putting it in a place where your customers can easily see it - in a window or on the door - reassures customers that your business takes food hygiene seriously. If you’ve lost, damaged or misplaced your sticker, contact us and we can provide you with a new one.

Food Standards Agency research has shown that people are becoming more aware of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and customers are actively looking for hygiene rating stickers when they are out and about.

There’s a profit to be madeAn increasing number of food businesses are displaying their hygiene rating stickers and more than a third of them say that this is having a positive impactThis includes greater customer confidence, better reputation among customers and, most importantly, more customers.

The Food Standards Agency’s ‘Making the Most of Your Business Rating’ outlines some other straightforward, cost effective tips to help you get the most out of your hygiene ratingThis includes downloadable images allowing ratings to be easily included on menus, promotional materials and your website.