How to prepare for your inspection and get the best food hygiene score

You will receive your food hygiene rating score based on the result of your first inspection, so it is important that you are prepared before you open.

After registering your business with the Food Safety Team, you will be given guidance on how to comply with Food Law, which you should read in full. You will find it particularly helpful to work your way through the sheet, Food safety - New business advice - How to get a 5 which provides simple details of what you need to do to comply.

You will also be given an ‘Awaiting Inspection’ sticker as part of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, which you should display on the outside of your business in an obvious place.

When the officer will visit

A Local Authority Food Officer will aim to carry out the inspection any time from day one of your business trading to around 28 days later.

If the inspectors will let you know if they're coming

The inspection will be unannounced, in that you will not be informed of the visit. An appointment will only be made where your business is operated from your home.

When you will receive your food hygiene rating score

You will be sent your food hygiene rating sticker with your full report after the inspection.

What will happen during the inspection

The officer will be checking that your business handles food safely (during receipt, storage, preparation, processing and delivery). To do this they will:

  • review your food safety paperwork, including food safety procedures, monitoring records, allergen information, pest control reports, waste removal contracts, invoices and staff training plans and records
  • check food hygiene practices - for example cooking, cooling, chilling, reheating and displaying by observing staff and asking them questions about what they do
  • examine the suitability, condition and cleanliness of the facilities, structure and equipment used in the business

If you have to stop working and serving food when the inspectors attend

The Food Safety Officer will carry out their inspection when you are trading and staff should carry on working normally as much as practicable. The Food Safety Officer will want to observe how your business usually operates.

Officers will try to avoid the busiest times to prevent additional burden, but this may not always be possible.

How you'll know what you have to do next

You will be given feedback, advice and opportunity to ask questions during the visit. A brief report will provided at the end of the inspection detailing what needs to be done and a more detailed full report will follow within 14 days.

Your food hygiene rating sticker will be sent to you with the full report; this should replace your ‘Awaiting Inspection’ sticker.

When your next inspection will be

The frequency of your inspections is determined by a number of risk factors including:

  • what food processes you carry out
  • how far and wide your business trades
  • what types of food you handle
  • how compliant your business was deemed at the last food hygiene inspection

Depending on the seriousness of any hazards in a food premises, more formal legal action can be taken by an officer in accordance with the Environmental Health Enforcement Policy

There are codes of practice that the officer must conform to when inspecting a food premises and when taking enforcement action.

For further help and guidance visit our Food Safety pages or phone the Food Safety Team on 01273 29 44 16 or 01273 29 44 91 or send an email to