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Food hygiene rating scheme

The food hygiene rating scheme provides information on food hygiene standards to help you choose where to eat out or shop for food. 

You will now see businesses displaying certificates and stickers with a rating between zero and five.

Food outlets are inspected by food safety officers from Belfast City Council. During the inspection we check that their hygiene standards meet legal requirements and cover areas such as: 

  • how hygienically food is handled - how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored 
  • the condition of the structure of the buildings - cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities 
  • how the business manages and records what it does to make sure food is safe - including having a completed safe catering pack or equivalent, the previous history of compliance and staff training. 

The hygiene standards found at the time of inspection are then rated on a scale of 0 to 5.

For more information about the scheme visit the Food Standards Agency website

Information for businesses

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme helps people choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, hotels and other food outlets. 

The scheme encourages businesses to improve hygiene standards. In Belfast the scheme is run in partnership with Belfast City Council and the Food Standards Agency.

What can I do if I think the rating given is unfair or wrong?

You should talk to the food safety officer who inspected the business about why the rating was given. 

If you still think that the rating is unfair or wrong, you can appeal in writing. To appeal, download an appeal form and send it to the Lead Food Safety Officer at Belfast City Council within 14 days (this includes weekends and public holidays) of being told what your rating is. 

You also have a 'right to reply'. This is different from an appeal. You can download a right to reply form and send it to us to tell the food safety officer how the business has improved hygiene, or to say if there were unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection. We will publish a business's right to reply online with the business's hygiene rating. 

Can I ask for a re-visit to get a new rating?

Yes, but only if you have made the improvements to hygiene that our food safety officer told you about at the last inspection. You can only ask us to carry out a re-visit once before the date of the next planned inspection. To ask for a re-visit download a re-visit form and send it to us.

For more frequently asked questions, visit the Food Standards Agency website.

Contact us
Environmental health
028 9027 0468
Food Safety
Cecil Ward Building
4-10 Linenhall Street