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National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme Frequently Asked Questions


Are all food businesses included in the scheme?

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No.  The following are excluded or exempt:

a) Domestic premises
b) Retailers who only sell low risk prepacked foods such as confectionary.
c) Importers/Exporters and Distributors/Transporters
d) Primary Producers such as farms
e) Manufacturers
f) Other businesses that are sent a self-assessment questionnaire.
g) Community buildings such as village halls, church halls etc that have more than one user.

The above list will be reviewed on a regular basis.

Do I need a brand new kitchen to get a 5 rating?

No – if you check your kitchen regularly for defects and ensure equipment, surfaces and fittings are cleaned/repaired/renewed/redecorated as necessary you can expect a high rating.

Is a 5 rating an indication of really good food and service?

No – it is an indication of food being handled safely from preparation to service.

How will the scheme be introduced?

Progressively as premises fall due for inspection.

Premises are inspected according to a risk based schedule.  There may be a period of up to two years between these programmed inspections.

Can I appeal against a Food Hygiene Rating?

Yes. If you do not believe the rating given reflects the hygiene standards and management controls at the time of the inspection.

How soon must I appeal?

You have 21 working days to appeal to the Senior Environmental Health Officer at the authority.  If you do not appeal within this period the food hygiene rating will be published online at 'Check the Hygiene Rating' webpage.

How do I appeal?

In writing (or by email).  There is a standard form available for your use.  Guidance on the procedure is available on our Food Hygiene Rating Scheme webpage.

What happens next?

If you lodge an appeal the online food hygiene rating will show “awaiting publication” The Senior Environmental Health Officer (or deputy) will review the case and advise you of the outcome within 21 days of your appeal date and the rating will be published online.

Can I make a comment that will be visible online alongside my rating?

Yes.  This is your “right to reply”.  You may believe that exceptional circumstances on the day affected your rating.  Equally you may wish to explain to customers that subsequent actions have been taken to rectify matters.

How do I do this?

You need to send your comments in writing (or by email) to the inspecting food safety officer.  There is a standard form available.  Guidance on the procedure is available on our Food Hygiene Rating Scheme webpage.

When can I do this?

At any time before the next inspection.

Will all my comments be published?

The local authority may edit comments to remove any offensive, inaccurate or irrelevant remarks.

Can I request a re-visit to re-rate my business?

Yes, if you have actioned the improvements identified at the last inspection you can request a re-visit prior to the next scheduled inspection. Businesses inspected after the 5th September 2016 will be subject to a charge of £175 upon receipt of a valid request.

How many re-visits may I request between planned inspections?

There is no limit on the number of requests that can be made, but to maintain the inspectors confidence, it is important you look carefully at the comments made by the inspector to ensure you have fully understood and taken appropriate action at the first oportunity. 

Will the re-visit check just my improvements?

No – Standards will be reviewed in all areas of your business.  So it is important to maintain standards generally as your rating could go down and not up.  This rating would not be reviewed before your next planned inspection.

How do I request a re-visit?

Put your request in writing (or email) to the officer that carried out the inspection.  Guidance on the procedure is available on our Food Hygiene Rating Scheme webpage.

When can I make my request?

At any time after the inspection once you have carried out the improvements.

Do I need to include anything to support my request for a re-visit?

Yes.  Photographs of structural improvements/repairs, new equipment provided and photocopies of receipts/documents produced in response to the inspection.  This should include copies of amended/new food safety management documents such as completed staff training records or a cleaning schedule.  Such information may be sent by post, email or hand delivered to the appropriate Cornwall Council office. 

How soon will the re-visit occur?

If the local authority considers that you have provided sufficient evidence that the required improvements have been made, the local authority will make an unannounced visit. This will take place within three months of the receipt of a valid request and payment.

If the revisit is for lapsed record keeping, an inspecting officer will ensure a suitable period of time has passed before returning. This is so a representative sample of the records can be evidenced indicating safe operating.

When will I know the new rating?

It should be immediately but will be provided at the latest within 14 working days of the re-visit.  As with the original inspection you can appeal or submit a “right to reply”.