What Does A 1 Star Hygiene Rating Mean?

The official definition is that major improvement is necessary'.

Officers add points when there are certain shortcomings found during an inspection.  The more points an establishment receives, the worse their hygiene rating will be.

Likewise, the fewer points a business receives, the better their rating will be.

An establishment with a food hygiene rating of 1 will have scored between 45 and 50 points.

Is it safe to eat in an establishment with a 1 star rating?

If there is an imminent risk to the public, the Food Standards Agency can close down a business on the spot.

If the business does not get shut down, there is no imminent risk to the public.  So, it is safe for you to eat there.

But, a business with a hygiene rating of 1 means there were shortcomings in one or more of the following areas:

  • Food Hygiene and Safety
  • Structural Compliance
  • Confidence in Management

But, a rating of 1 doesnt mean the establishment has a bad score in all three areas. 

In fact, an establishment could be very clean and have good hygiene standards in place.

But they could receive a poor rating due to lack of procedures.  Also, they might not have the systems in place to ensure food safety.

Lets look at an example.  Lets say business A with a rating of 1 scores the following:

  • 'Hygienic food handling' - Generally satisfactory
  • 'Cleanliness and condition of facilities and building' - Generally satisfactory
  • 'Management of food safety' - Major improvement necessary

Another business (business B) may have the same 'Hygienic food handling' score.  But they may score better in other areas. 

Business B would  get a rating of 4 with the following scores:

  • 'Hygienic food handling' - Generally satisfactory
  • 'Cleanliness and condition of facilities and building' - Good
  • 'Management of food safety' - Good

In other words, looking into the details of the rating may help you make a more informed decision.

Reasons why establishments get a 1 star rating

Establishments could get a 1 star rating for a variety of reasons:

  • Bad hygiene standards and cleanliness
  • Lack of training among staff
  • Lack of systems and procedures in place to ensure good food hygiene
  • Bad structural quality of the premises
  • Failure to keep good records
  • Failure to produce paperwork required by the inspection officer
  • Failing to keep equipment and facilities in good working order.  An example could be a broken hand basin.

Do establishments get a 1 star rating due to missing paperwork?

Businesses don't get a 1 star rating due to missing paperwork alone.  Paperwork and procedures are a consideration.  But this is not the only consideration.

For example, inspectors will look at hygiene practices such as regular handwashing.  They also look to see they store food at the correct temperatures.

Other things inspectors look for include (but not limited to):

  • Thorough washing of vegetables, fruit and salads
  • Safe defrosting of frozen foods
  • Staff knowledge of allergy hazards
  • Structure and condition of the premises
  • Maintenance and cleanliness of equipment
  • Number of sinks
  • Cooking temperatures
  • Temperature of fridges
  • Speed of food refrigeration

Do establishments with a 1 star rating get shut down?

Businesses only get shut down if inspectors find an imminent risk to health.  In other words, if the food is unsafe to eat.

What happens if you get a 1 hygiene rating?

In the case of a rating of 1 (major improvement necessary), a business will receive guidance on how to improve.

But unless there is an imminent risk to public health, the business can continue to trade.  This is despite the business receiving such a low rating.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are 541,277 food businesses registered with the Food Standards Agency. Out of those:

  • A total of 6,132 businesses have achieved a rating of 1 (1.13%).