Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

All food premises in Harlow must be registered and have approval with Harlow Council. Harlow Council takes part in the Food Standards Agency's (FSA's) national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. It replaced Harlow Council's "Scores on the Doors" star rating scheme.

Find out a rating

Eating out? Getting food in?

Find out if a restaurant, takeaway or food shop you want to eat at or buy food from has good food hygiene standards by searching on the Food Standards Agency website.

What types of food business are given a rating?

Ratings are given to places where you can eat out such as restaurants, takeaways, cafés, sandwich shops, pubs, and hotels. Ratings are also given to schools, hospitals and residential care homes. Places where you shop for food such as supermarkets, bakeries, and delicatessens are also given a rating.

Not all businesses in these groups are given a rating. This is because some businesses, for example a newsagent selling sweets, are a low risk to people’s health so are not included in the scheme. These businesses are said to be ‘exempt’ from the scheme.

How are the ratings worked out?

Inspections are to make sure that all food is handled and prepared safely. The hygiene standards found at the time of inspection are then rated on a scale. At the bottom of the scale is ‘0’ – this means urgent improvement is required. At the top of the scale is ‘5’ – this means the hygiene standards are very good.

Food Hygiene Rating window stickersAt the inspection, the officer will check:

  • how hygienically the food is handled – how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored
  • the condition of the structure of the buildings – the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities
  • how the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe

The rating does not reflect the quality of food or the standard of service provided to customers.

Inspected businesses are issued window stickers. It is not currently against the law if a business does not display these, but it is possible that this could change in the future.

How does a business appeal a rating?

Businesses will be notified of their food hygiene score and rating after the inspection. Once notified, they will have 21 days in which to appeal, if they feel that the rating is unjust. The food business operator is encouraged to contact the inspecting officer in the first instance, and then if the matter cannot be resolved, a formal appeal may be lodged with the Environmental Health Manager, by submitting a completed Food Hygiene Rating Scheme - appeal (pdf).

When an appeal has been lodged the outcome has to be decided within seven days. Until the appeal has been decided, the rating will not be published on the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) website.

Can a business add comments to the score published on the FHRS website?

Inspected food business operators are entitled to lodge a 'right to reply' following an inspection. This will then be published on the FHRS website with the score. Comments need to be made in writing using the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme - right to reply form (pdf). The text published on the FHRS website may be edited to remove any offensive, defamatory, or inaccurate or irrelevant remarks.

Can a business request a revisit for rescoring?

If the food business operator has taken action to correct any issues raised as a result of the inspection, they are entitled to apply to be rescored. This request can be made at any time, but the revisit will not generally take place within the first three months after the initial inspection. Only one requested revisit will take place between programmed inspections, other than in justified exceptional circumstances.

The food business operator must apply in writing on the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme - request for a re-visit form (pdf). The Council can however refuse to undertake the revisit, if the case made by the food business operator is not substantiated or if insufficient evidence is provided. There is currently no charge for revisit requests, although this may change in the future.

Please note: Revisits for rescoring will be unannounced. There is no guarantee that a revisit to rescore will result in an improved rating. It is possible that the rating could remain the same or even go down, if insufficient action has been taken or if further issues are identified.