Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme rates food hygiene standards in businesses where people eat or buy food. The rating scheme applies to cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, delis and other food shops in Northern Ireland. By law, food businesses must display their rating sticker.

Inspecting food hygiene standards

The Food Standards Agency runs the scheme in Northern Ireland. Local councils are responsible for inspecting and rating food premises in their areas. 

Food safety officers from councils inspect food businesses to check food storage, preparation and hygiene management.

Food safety officers inspect:

  • restaurants
  • cafes
  • pubs
  • takeaways
  • supermarkets
  • bakeries
  • hospitals
  • care homes
  • schools

How a council inspects food hygiene standards

When inspecting a food business, the food safety officer checks:

  •  hygiene when the food is prepared, cooked, cooled, re-heated, cooled and stored
  • condition of the building's structure, including cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities
  • food hygiene management and how the business records what it does to make sure food is safe

When the food business receives their rating, they have 21 days to appeal the rating. 

Ratings from zero to five

The council rates on a scale the hygiene standards they found during the inspection. The rating scale is zero to five.

Zero is bottom of the scale.  This rating means the food business needs to make urgent improvements to their food hygiene standards. 

Five is top of the scale. This rating means food hygiene standards are very good in the food business. 

Displaying a rating sticker

Following an inspection and confirmed rating, a food business must display their rating sticker within 21 days.  The rating sticker is black and green. By law, they must display the sticker at or near the customer entrance so you can see and read the rating before you enter.

To read more about the scheme or check food hygiene ratings in your area, go to:

More useful links

Food safety and hygiene

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