3 things the EHO assesses to determine your Food Hygiene Rating

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Today, I’m going to share with you the three areas that the Environmental Health Officer assesses to work out a food hygiene rating.

Hey! I’m Natalie Stanton and I’m a Chartered EHO. And I’m here to help you get confident with food safety in your business.

Let’s dive in.

1. Food Safety and Hygiene procedures

The first area an officer will score you on is called “Food Safety and Hygiene procedures”. Now, you might be thinking, what does this jargon actually mean?

So, this means the officer looks how hygienically you are handling the food.

This will include them looking at how do you store, prepare, cook, reheat and cool the food? Or whichever of these things you may do in your business.

They will check, are you doing this safely?

For example; do you keep raw foods (such raw meat) away from foods that are cooked and ready to eat?

So, basically, how do you prevent cross-contamination?

2. Structure and Cleaning

Ok, let’s move on to the second area which is “structure and cleaning”.

This is where the officer will look at the cleanliness and condition of your premises, your kitchen and your equipment. It also includes pest control, waste control, provision of hand wash basins, sinks, hot and cold water supply, etc.

First impressions count right?

Therefore, something that actually can create a really bad impression (and this is probably going to sound really obvious) is if the officer turns up and your kitchen looks filthy. But I’ve seen this many times. Or if they go to wash their hands and the wash hand basin is filthy. And this has literally happened to me before, to the point where I didn’t even want to wash my hands! 

So, there’s just a couple of reasons to keep on top of cleaning.

3. Confidence in management


The third and final area is called confidence in management.

This is about how you manage food safety.

It’s largely, but not entirely about paperwork.

But in terms of paperwork, there is something every food business needs and this is a written food safety management system.

This is something the officer will certainly check during a food hygiene inspection. And without having a documented food safety management system in place, it is unlikely a business will get more than a 1 out of 5 for their rating.

If you’re a small business, there’s a free pack created by the FSA called Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) that you may be able to use. This is completely free and you can download a copy here.

I also have a blog on step by step how to complete the SFBB pack. You can read it here.

There are other things that an officer may assess in terms of food safety management. It is worth bearing in mind that this will vary between different business, the size of business, what a business does, etc. But other things may include;

  • food safety monitoring records (i.e. temperature records like your fridges and freezers)
  • evidence of food hygiene training (i.e. food hygiene certificates)
  • pest control records
  • waste control records
  • allergen information for your products

Now before we finish, there’s something really critical here. You can have all the paperwork in the world, but this won’t help you if you aren’t following it in practice. So the officer is going to check this. Do you follow your system?

For example; when doing inspections, I would often look at a business’s food safety management system (procedures) and pick a couple of things out. I would then make sure I check these when I’m in the kitchen. If I start finding discrepancies, then I’m going to go back to their food safety system and select more things to go and check.

Key takeaway here, make sure you and your staff (if you have any), follow your food safety systems and procedures.





“How to get your 5-star food hygiene rating.”

Written by Chartered Environmental Health Officer, Natalie Stanton.

Includes a 50-point inspection checklist!

Learn what the officer will be inspecting and achieve the top Food Hygiene Rating for your business.

Here's how I can help you

Get food safety training from an Environmental Health Officer (EHO). 

This is the UK’s first self-taught, online Level 2 Food Safety & Hygiene course for Catering that is created and taught by EHO, Natalie Stanton. There are no PowerPoint slides and no monotonous voiceover. In only 2 hours, Natalie guides you through the key aspects of food safety in 13 short, pre-recorded videos.