How to Appeal a Food Hygiene Rating

  • 26 March 2024 26 March 2024
  • UK & Europe

  • Casualty claims

With an increase in enquiries about food hygiene inspections we felt it would be a good time to provide a refresher about the system and a business’ options in the event it receives a rating it disagrees with.

What is the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme?

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is a partnership initiative between local authorities and the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The scheme gives businesses a rating from 5 – 0 which can be displayed at its premises and is available online. The purpose of this scheme is to allow consumers to make more informed choices about the establishments they decide to buy and eat food from and is designed to encourage businesses to improve/maintain hygiene standards. 

The Food Hygiene Ratings:

5 – Hygiene standards are very good
4 – Hygiene standards are good 
3 – Hygiene standards are generally satisfactory
2 – Some improvement is necessary
1 – Major improvement is necessary
0 – Urgent improvement is required

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme’s Scoring Matrix:

The Food Law Code of Practice provides the scoring matrix for the inspection. Generally, the lower the score is in each section, the better the rating is. 

Inspections focus on three critical elements:

  1. Compliance with food safety and hygiene procedures
    This is in relation with food is hygienically handled, prepared, cooked, reheated, cooled, and stored.
  2. Compliance with structural requirements
    This is in relation to the physical condition of the premises to include cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation, pest control and other facilities.
  3. Confidence in management/control procedures
    This is in relation to how the business manages ways of keeping food safe, looking at processes training and systems to ensure that good hygiene is maintained.

The score an establishment is given will dictate the minimum intervention frequency by food safety officers. This can range from every six months to a programme of Alternative Enforcement Strategies or interventions which occur every three years. 

The Appeal:

Following a hygiene inspection of a premises the business will be told in writing, either at the time or within 14 days, the rating. If a business disagrees with the rating it can appeal against this. 

Before issuing a formal appeal, it is sensible to open up a dialogue with the local authority. Taking remedial steps and paying for a prompt reinspection (outside of the usual time limits) may be the best course of action (see further below).

How do I Appeal?

If after discussions a business remains unhappy with its rating, an appeal can be made. 

An appeal is submitted in writing within 21 days of the notification of the rating. It must be submitted to the Lead Officer for Food at the relevant local authority. The Lead Officer for Food should then review and respond within 21 days of the date of the appeal. Once this notification has been made the rating will be published on the FSA website. The appeal itself can be further challenged by way of judicial review but the rating will still be published in the meantime. 

If an appeal is not brought the local authority will publish the food hygiene rating on the FSA website. 

Alternative Route to Review Rating:

As mentioned earlier, if a business accepts remedial steps are required, these can be taken and an early reinspection requested. Most local authorities will charge for doing so outside of normal inspection timeframes. 

It is important to note that a reinspection will review standards generally, not just at the specific areas requiring improvement. This means the hygiene rating in other areas could reduce if standards have not been maintained. A reinspection is requested in writing from the local authority. 


Additional authors:

Maia Lucas, Paralegal

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