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Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

The Food Hygiene Rating Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 came into operation on 7 October 2016, and is operated by our food safety and port health officers in partnership with the Food Standard Agency.

The Act is designed to help consumers make an informed choice by providing information regarding the hygiene standards in restaurants, cafes, takeaways, hotels, supermarkets and other food shops. 

As part of the Act, food businesses are required to display a sticker with a food hygiene rating between zero and five.

How does it work?

Food premises are inspected by our food safety officers and during the inspection we check that the hygiene standards meet legal requirements and cover areas such as: 

  • how hygienically food is handled - how it’s 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 zero to five:

  • 5 - Very Good
  • 4 - Good
  • 3 - Generally satisfactory 
  • 2 – Improvement necessary 
  • 1 – Major improvement necessary 
  • 0 – Urgent improvement necessary


Following the inspection, the food business will receive a valid food hygiene rating sticker where it must be displayed at each entrance to the premises. 

Find out more about the Food Hygiene Rating Act (Northern Ireland) 2016.

Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) and charges for failure to display your sticker and for failure to display an invalid rating

It is an offence not to display your sticker or to display an invalid rating. If you fail to display your sticker, display an incorrect sticker we can take enforcement action. 

The amounts are currently as indicated below in relation to each of the offences:

Section 10 offences for which Fixed Penalty Notice may be issued  Full amount Discounted amount
An operator of a food business establishment commits an offence if, without reasonable excuse, the operator -
  • fails to display a valid food hygiene rating sticker at or near each entrance to their food business establishment and,
  • where it can be readily seen and easily read by customers before they enter the establishment when it is open to the business
£200 £150
An operator of a food business establishment commits an offence if, without reasonable excuse, as the operator of a food business establishment -
  • displayed at that food establishment a food hygiene sticker which is not a valid rating
£200 £150

A discount of 25 per cent is applicable if payment is made within the first 14 days with this period beginning with the day on which the notice is given.

Paying a Fixed Penalty

To make a Fixed Penalty payment you will need your unique Fixed penalty reference number which is found on your Fixed Penalty notice letter. 

You can also pay by phone on 028 9027 0468.

For more information about the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme visit the Food Standard Agency at 

For more information about the Food Hygiene Rating Act visit

For further information and advice please call our Food Safety team on 028 9027 0468

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