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Guide to food inspection scores

Following a food hygiene inspection the premises receives a score. This score is based on the risk posed by the premises and is given under government guidance.

Below is:

  • The guidance used by food safety inspectors.
  • The scoring used to determine the frequency of inspections.

Inspection Rating Scheme


Score Type of Food and Method of Handling

Manufacturers of high-risk food that are not subject to product specific food hygiene Regulations. Wholesalers and packers who re-wrap or re-pack high-risk foods. In this context, high-risk foods may be regarded:

  • as foods that support the growth of micro-organisms
  • and/or are intended for consumption without further treatment that could destroy pathogenic micro-organisms or their toxins
30 Preparation, cooking or handling of open high-risk foods by caterers and retailers. Except caterers that prepare less than 20 meals a day (see below).30

Handling of pre-packed high-risk foods. Caterers that prepare high-risk foods, but serve less than 20 meals a day.

Other wholesalers and distributors not included in the categories above: Manufacture or packing of foods other than high-risk. Premises involved in the

  • filleting
  • salting
  • or cold smoking
  • of fish for retail sale to final consumer

Retail handling of foods other than high-risk, such as:

  • fruit,
  • vegetables,
  • canned and other ambient shelf stable products.

Any other businesses not included in the categories abov


Score Method of Processing

Thermal processing or aseptic packing of low-acid foods;

  • Vacuum and sous-vide packing (except raw/unprocessed meat and dried foods);
  • Manufacture of cook/chill food i.e:
    • cooked and prepared meals
    • or foods which may be eaten cold or after reheating.
  • Catering premises should not be included in this category. Unless they are engaged in the specific operation referred to commercially as the preparation of cook-chill meals. The simple reheating of cook-chill meals is excluded from the scope of this paragraph;
  • Small-scale production of cooked meat products. That is not subject to product-specific food hygiene regulations e.g. certain retailers including butchers.


Score Consumers at Risk
15 Manufacturers of food that is distributed nationally or internationally.

Businesses serving a large number of customers including a significant proportion from outside the local area, for example:

  • superstore,
  • hypermarket,
  • airport caterer,
  • motorway service area caterer;
  • Manufacturers not included in the category above.

Businesses, most of whose customers are likely to be living, staying or working in the local area, for example:

  • high street or corner shop,
  • high street supermarket,
  • high street restaurant.
0 Businesses supplying less than 20 consumers each day.


Vulnerable Groups

An extra score of 22 (in addition to the score above) should be included for premises

  • where production and/or service of high-risk foods takes place
  • and where more than 20 persons in a vulnerable group are at risk

These are places such as

  • hospitals
  • nursing homes
  • day-care centres
  • child nurseries

In this context, vulnerable groups are those that include people who are:

  • under 5
  • over 65 years of age,
  • people who are sick,
  • and people who are immunocompromised
Score Level of current Compliance / Hygiene / Structure
25 Almost total non-compliance with statutory obligations.
20 General failure to satisfy statutory obligations - standards generally low.
15 Some major non-compliance with statutory obligations - more effort required to prevent fall in standards.
10 Some non-compliance with statutory obligations and industry codes of recommended practice. The premises are in the top 50 per cent of premises and standards are being maintained or improved.
5 High standard of compliance with statutory obligations and industry codes of recommended practice, minor contravention's of food hygiene regulations. Some minor non-compliance with statutory obligations and industry codes of recommended practice.
0 High standard of compliance with statutory obligations and industry codes of recommended practice; conforms to accepted good practices in the trade


Score Confidence in Management/Control Systems
30 Poor track record of compliance. Little or no technical knowledge. Little or no appreciation of hazards or quality control. No food safety management system.
20 Varying record of compliance. Poor appreciation of hazards and control measures. No food safety management system.
10 Satisfactory record of compliance. Access to and use of technical advice either in-house or from trade associations. May have satisfactory documented food safety management system.
5 Reasonable record of compliance. Technical advice available in-house or access to and use of technical advice from trade associations. Have satisfactory documented procedures and systems. Able to demonstrate effective control of hazards. Will have satisfactory documented food safety management system. Audit by Food Authority confirms general compliance with documented system.
0 Good record of compliance. Access to technical advice within organisation. Will have satisfactory documented HACCP based food safety management system which may be subject to external audit process. Audit by Food Authority confirms compliance with documented management system with few/minor non-conformities not identified in the system as critical control points.


Score Significant risk

Significant risk of food contamination with Cl. botulinum, and the organism surviving any processing and multiplying. Or significant risk of ready-to-eat food contaminated with:

  • micro-organisms
  • or their toxins that are pathogenic to humans.


Category Inspection Rating Minimum Inspection Frequency
A = 92 to 196 at least every 6 months
B = 72 to 91 at least every 12 months
C = 42 to 71 at least every 18 months
D = 31 to 41 at least every 2 years
E = 0 to 30 Alternative enforcement strategy


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