Food Hygiene: Know the score

2022 report

What are food hygiene ratings, and how does your area perform?

For press and media enquires, please contact Dan Raymond, PR Manager at High Speed Training, at

We are High Speed Training, and over the last 13 years, we have certified hundreds of thousands of people in food hygiene. We’re committed to not only improving standards, but ensuring that food hygiene ratings are accessible and visible to consumers.

To help businesses and customers across the UK make informed decisions, we have investigated food hygiene and safety standards for premises all across the UK.

To create average ratings for major towns and cities, we analysed Food Standards Agency (FSA) data for over 230,000 food businesses across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

We conducted a similar report in 2019, and we wanted to see how things have changed over the last few years. We wanted to share these findings with you, and help the nation understand more about what the scores mean and, ultimately, why food hygiene ratings matter.

These findings will hopefully give you an understanding of how and why food hygiene ratings are used and why your local food businesses gain the ratings they do.

If you are a customer, this will help you make more informed decisions about where to eat, and if you are a business owner, will help you too see how to gain a good score in your establishment.

The Results

By using the interactive map and table below, you can see how your region, town or city ranks against the rest of the country

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South West
East Counties
South East
North West
North East
West Midlands
East Midlands
Northern Ireland
Yorkshire & Humber

Overall Results

You can filter these results by Region or by Town/City:

North East

Ranked #5 of 11

Yorkshire & Humber

Ranked #7 of 11

South West

Ranked #2 of 11


Ranked #8 of 11

East Counties

Ranked #6 of 11

East Midlands

Ranked #3 of 11


Ranked #11 of 11

North West

Ranked #9 of 11

Northern Ireland

Ranked #1 of 11


Scotland uses a different rating system to the rest of the UK which has two main ratings - 'Pass' or 'Improvement Required'. We have provided the percentage pass rates by local authority below.

South East

Ranked #4 of 11

West Midlands

Ranked #10 of 11

What is the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme?

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) is a partnership with local authorities in England, Wales & Northern Ireland. The scheme aims to provide customers with information as to how well a business is upholding food hygiene and safety standards.

An Environmental Health Officer (EHO) from the town or city’s local authority visits a business at a frequency between every six months and two years, depending on the level of ‘risk’ the business presents. An establishment that is constantly handling fresh and raw food is considered at higher risk than a shop which mostly sells pre-packaged food.

The EHO conducts an inspection of an establishment to make sure that food safety regulations are being adhered to. They then rate the business based on their findings. The criteria and rating scale are summarised below.

What makes up a rating?

Hygienic food handling

This covers the preparation and cooking of food and how it is subsequently reheated, cooled and stored.

Physical condition of the premises and facilities

This concerns whether the location has an appropriate layout, adequate lighting, a high standard of cleanliness, suitable ventilation & pest control.

Food safety management

This evaluates if the business is taking suitable precautions to keep food safe. This can include Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems, staff training records and logs of relevant checks.

These 3 elements make up the overall food hygiene rating which is scored out of 5 as follows:

0 = Urgent Improvement Needed

1 = Major Improvement Needed

2 = Some Improvement Needed

3 = Satisfactory

4 = Good

5 = Very Good

These ratings are then made available on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website and are usually visible from outside of the premises, often presented in a window near the entrance. This is an example of a Food Hygiene Rating sticker, which you will regularly see in food businesses.

In Wales and Northern Ireland, it is compulsory for businesses to display their food hygiene rating. However, in England it is currently just considered best practice.

A food hygiene rating sticker showing a 5 star rating for an establishment.

Scotland's Food Hygiene Information Scheme

A similar scheme operates in Scotland, called the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS). After an EHO has reviewed the safety systems in place, observed food hygiene in practice and spoken with the staff, the businesses are given either:

Scotland Scheme Pass Image

‘Pass’ - meaning they meet the legal standard of food hygiene.


Scotland Scheme Improve Image

‘Improvement Required’ - meaning the legal standard of food hygiene was not evident during the inspection. The business will need to improve certain areas to then qualify for a pass.

As in England, it is not required by law for a business to display the rating they receive. However, the Food Hygiene Information Scheme is still freely available for customers to view online.

Our Key Findings

Top 3 overall towns and cities


Top 3 overall regions

Northern Ireland
South West
East Midlands

Top 3 large cities (over 1000 establishments)


440 food establishments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland scored a zero for their food hygiene rating

More than one in 5 takeaways had a food hygiene rating of 3 or below

The average Pass rate in Scotland has risen to 91.8% from 89.5%

Average rating across England, Northern Ireland and Wales rose to 4.51 from 4.39 in 2019

68% of food establishments in the UK scored a 5 on their FH rating, with 87% scoring 4 and above

Findings by region

We have compiled a list of key facts for each region of England, along with Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Select a region from the options to get specific findings for where you live.

6. East Counties

  • Ipswich has the highest rating in the East Counties region, with an average rating of 4.88.
  • Colchester has fallen from 1st in the region to 4th, with an average rating of 4.69.
  • Luton has seen the largest improvement in the region, but still ranks second bottom, improving from an average rating of 3.78 to 4.31.
  • St Albans is the lowest ranked in the region, with an average score of 4.25.
  • St Albans (-0.01) and Basildon (-0.07) are the only two places in the region whose ratings have gone down from 2019.
  • Almost 1 in 5 (19%) takeaways in the region are rated 3 or below.
  • 90% of restaurants are rated 4 or 5, and 96% of hotels, B&Bs and guest houses are rated 4 or 5.
  • 11% of establishments are rated 3 or lower.
  • Overall region change: 2022 - 4.54 - 2019 - 4.44

3. East Midlands

  • East Midlands (3rd, average of 4.61) performed significantly better than the West Midlands (10th, average of 4.37)
  • Lincoln has the highest rating in the East Midlands region with an average rating of 4.78.
  • Northampton has the lowest rating in the East Midlands region with an average of 4.21.
  • No region in the East Midlands has a lower average rating than 4.2 overall.
  • Almost 1 in 5 (19%) takeaways in the region are rated 3 or below.
  • Almost 90% of establishments had a 4 or 5 food hygiene rating.
  • Overall region change - 2021 - 4.61 - 2019 - 4.49

11. London

  • Kensington and Chelsea has the highest rating of all the London Boroughs with an average of 4.80.
  • Waltham Forest has the lowest rating of London boroughs, with an average rating of 3.79.
  • If London boroughs were counted as separate towns, one would claim each of the three bottom spots in the country - Newham: 3.97, Ealing: 3.85, Waltham Forest: 3.79.
  • Tower Hamlets has the highest increase in London, improving it’s rating by 0.66 from 3.81 in 2019 to 4.47 in 2022, climbing 15 places in the process.
  • Westminster placed 14th with an average rating of 4.39 coming from over 3,000 establishments.
  • Overall region change - 2022 - 4.31 2019 - 4.02

5. North East

  • Darlington has the highest rating in the North East region with an average of 4.83.
  • Sunderland has the lowest rating in the North East with an average of 4.29.
  • No town or city in the North East has a lower average rating than 4.29 overall.
  • Newcastle won the Tyne-Wear derby over Sunderland with an overall average rating of 4.59 vs 4.29.
  • Overall region change - 2022 - 4.56 2019 - 4.44

9. North West

  • Southport has the highest rating in the North West region with an hugely impressive average of 4.91.
  • Southport has the highest average food hygiene rating of all towns and cities in the UK
  • Bolton has the lowest average rating in the North West region with an average of 3.97, which is also the lowest in the UK.
  • Liverpool win the big local derby, with a rating of 4.30 compared to Manchester’s 4.24
  • Overall region change - 2022 - 4.41 2019 - 4.29

1. Northern Ireland

  • Northern Ireland has the highest rating of all regions in the UK, with an average rating of 4.69 out of 5, increasing from 4.59 in 2019
  • Mid and East Antrim has the highest FH rating in the country, with an average of 4.81
  • Causeway Coast and Glens drops from 1st position in 2019 to 5th position in 2022, though its rating still increased by 0.01 to 4.72.
  • Ards and North Down has the lowest rating in NI, with a rating of 4.57.
  • However, the gap between the top region and the bottom region is only 0.24, the smallest spread of any region in the UK.
  • No region in Northern Ireland has a lower average rating than 4.5
  • Belfast has the second highest average rating in the whole of the UK when compared with other larger towns and cities (with over 1,000 establishments).
  • Overall change - 2022 - 4.69 2019 - 4.59


  • The average pass rate for Scotland has risen from 89.5% in 2019 to 91.8% in 2022.
  • Orkney Islands lose their 100% pass rate from 2019, scoring 98.25%.
  • South Ayrshire ranks highest in Scotland in latest food hygiene ratings report - 99.61%.
  • Highlands rank lowest in Scotland in latest food hygiene ratings report - 79.26
  • Edinburgh ranks 27th in Scotland for food hygiene.
  • Overall change - 2022 - 91.8% 2019 - 89.5%

4. South East

  • Hastings retains the top spot in the South East region with an average of 4.83.
  • High Wycombe drops to the bottom of the region’s rankings, with an average score of 4.27, though it did increase it’s average score from 3.95 in 2019’s rankings.
  • Slough had the greatest increase in the region, improving it’s rating from 3.86 to 4.29.
  • Chatham’s national rating fell more than any other town surveyed, falling from 7th in 2019 to 32nd in 2022, losing 0.17 from its average rating.
  • Overall region change - 2022 - 4.60 2019 - 4.47

2. South West

  • Gloucester has the highest rating in the South West region with an average of 4.82.
  • Wells loses its top spot, slipping to third with an average rating of 4.73.
  • Weston-Super-Mare has the lowest rating in the South West region, as it did in 2019 with an average of 4.44. However, it has improved its average rating, up from 4.2 in 2019.
  • None of the South West towns or cities analysed within this study have an average rating lower than a 4.4.
  • Overall region change - 2022 - 4.65 2019 - 4.54

8. Wales

  • Gwynedd, Wrexham and Anglesey/Conwy (joint) rank as the top three areas in Wales, just as they did in 2019. Each area improved their rating, by an average of 0.1.
  • Blaenau Gwent has the lowest rating in Wales with an average of 3.99. It is the only region in Wales with a rating below 4.
  • Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf who were joint bottom in 2019, are among the biggest improvers in Wales, with increases of 0.13 and 0.15 respectively.
  • Overall change - 2022 - 4.43 2019 - 4.36

10. West Midlands

  • West Midlands (10th, 4.37) performed significantly worse than East Midlands (3rd, 4.61).
  • Newcastle-Under-Lyme has the highest rating in the West Midlands region with an average of 4.74.
  • Birmingham has the lowest rating in the West Midlands region with an average of 3.98.
  • Almost half of all takeaways (46.5%) in Birmingham were rated 3 or below, with 12% rated 1 or lower.
  • The West Midlands had 2 of the 3 lowest rated places in the UK, Birmingham (3.98) and Walsall (4.00).
  • Overall region change - 2022 - 4.37 2019 - 4.26

7. Yorkshire and Humber

  • Harrogate is top of the Yorkshire and Humber rankings with an average rating of 4.72, although it is the only town or city in the region to record a drop in average rating from 2019, down by 0.13.
  • Harrogate falls from 1st in the overall UK rankings to 12th
  • Halifax has the lowest average rating of all major towns and cities in the Yorkshire and Humber region, with an average rating of 4.22.
  • Rotherham improved its rating by 0.46 - the highest increase in the region.
  • Rotherham was also the biggest climber in the country, improving its place in the national rankings by 30 places, from 52nd in 2019 to 22nd in 2022.
  • Grimsby has the second highest average score in the Yorkshire and Humber region with an average rating of 4.70.
  • More than 1 in 10 (12.1%) establishments in the region scored 3 or below.
  • More than 1 in 5 takeaways (21.25%) in Yorkshire and Humberside scored a 3 and below on their FH
  • 90% of restaurants, cafes and canteens in Yorkshire and Humber scored a 4 or a 5
  • Overall region change - 2022 - 4.51 2019 - 4.38

For Businesses

Customers care

Businesses should take their food hygiene rating seriously. As more and more customers recognise the sticker, it can have a significant impact on your reputation and profit. Customers may decide to go elsewhere and avoid recommending you to others if you don’t uphold a good rating.

In a recent study, half of respondents had checked the food hygiene rating of a business in the past 12 months either at the premises or online. 80% would not eat at a restaurant or takeaway with a rating of 2, and this goes up to 94 and 95% for sites with a score of 1 or 0.

As displaying the rating is not compulsory in England, 49% of businesses choose not to do so. However, 61% of people reported they’d be less likely to eat at a business that did not have the food hygiene rating sticker at the entrance. This is because it creates worry that the establishment had a low food hygiene rating and was trying to hide it or it had poor hygiene standards.

We spoke to Eilidh Paton, owner of Alba Food Safety Consultancy and a Chartered Environmental Health Officer in Glasgow, about how crucial the scheme is.

Food Hygiene inspections and ratings are extremely important. From a legal perspective, they ensure businesses are compliant, but mostly, they are designed to help businesses provide safer food.

It also gives consumers the assurance that businesses are safe to eat in as they are regularly inspected by competent officers.

Profile of Eilidh Paton

Eilidh Paton
Owner of Alba Food Safety Consultancy

The FSA actively encourages marketing a good rating to attract customers, and it’s clear why. Attaining and advertising a good food hygiene rating can have a significantly positive impact on the number of customers who choose to use your services, and therefore the profit you make.

One Poor Inspection Can Hurt

One potential limitation of the scheme is the fact that an inspection is essentially a random “snapshot” of the business, meaning the rating may not be wholly reflective of everyday quality. One recent news-worthy rating came from a restaurant in Hove which had previously been awarded the Tripadvisor Travellers Choice Award in 2021, but then received a one star food hygiene rating later in the year. It was later revealed the low rating was as a result of issues with the establishment’s fridges, which were giving a false reading at the time of the inspection. The owner immediately fixed this simple issue and is hoping to return to it’s usual high standard and reputation upon the next visit from the EHO.

It can take up to six months for premises to be re-visited following an unsatisfactory rating, and a further 28 days for the rating change itself to be reflected publicly. Therefore, there may be a discrepancy between a rating online and one displayed on a building. As a result, businesses could be losing customers despite having improved their standards since the last inspection.

If you want to make sure you are fully prepared for an EHO inspection download our free inspection checklist.

It’s not just about “Food Hygiene”

It’s easy to think that food hygiene is purely associated with how hygienically food is handled and prepared. However, the FHRS consists of more than this and each area is equally important to your overall food hygiene rating.

Issues with your management of food safety can significantly affect your overall rating. This is why you must demonstrate appropriate HACCP Systems, staff training records, and the knowledge and capability of the manager.

If you are looking for the knowledge and skills needed to manage your food business correctly then check out our online Level 3 Food Hygiene Course. It covers everything you need to know to ensure a food business is operating hygienically including contamination control, waste management and HACCP.

You Can’t Hide Your Food Hygiene Rating

Although displaying your Food Hygiene rating on your premises is optional, customers can still find it elsewhere. The Food Hygiene Ratings Information website has had more monthly visitors than ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, showing that there is an increasing public interest in hygiene ratings.

Popular food delivery services are also following suit. Just Eat removed all zero rated sites from its platform in 2019 and any new restaurants wishing to join must have an FHRS rating of 3, whereas Deliveroo and Uber Eats are allowing businesses with 2 star food hygiene ratings to be listed on their platforms.

Furthermore, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic through which the hospitality sector particularly struggled, Just Eat worked alongside NSF to offer all 1 and 2 rated premises free audit and re-inspection support. The steps Just Eat have taken emphasises again that food hygiene ratings are an important part of a food business’s success, and are constantly being checked, not just by consumers, but also by other businesses.

Faking Your Food Hygiene Rating Isn’t Worth It

Displaying a false food hygiene rating is, under the Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, illegal and the number of penalties being handed out is steadily increasing as authorities crack down on offenders.

Recently, it’s been exposed that businesses have been buying fake food hygiene rating stickers from sites such as ebay, to display a false rating higher than the one they actually received. One eBay member sold 58 fake stickers from one advert alone, potentially making as much as £500. The listings have now been removed from the site and any found offenders will be charged with severe fines. It has been suggested that Food Hygiene rating stickers should carry a hologram or unique number to make them harder to fake.

In 2020, a Solihull takeaway was ordered to pay costs totalling £2,100 by Birmingham Magistrates Court for advertising a false food hygiene rating, proving that penalties for false food hygiene advertising are too high to risk.

Whereas the infrequency of inspections previously made false advertising difficult to police, it’s now easier and more common for customers to check the rating on the door against those held online by the FSA. Combine the fine with the inevitable bad press and reputational damage, faking a rating simply isn’t worth the risk to your business.

If you feel as though a recent inspection hasn't reflected your usual standards, use our guide to find out how to appeal your food hygiene rating.

If you’re looking for information on how to improve your hygiene rating, Elidh believes speaking to an EHO is a good place to start.

Our primary role is to provide advice rather than enforcement. EHOs would much rather a business engage with them and adopt their recommendations than view their interactions as a negative experience. So speak to your EHO, ask them questions, and ask for their advice.

Profile of Eilidh Paton

Eilidh Paton
Owner of Alba Food Safety Consultancy

For Customers

It’s Down To You To Check

Although food businesses have a legal duty to run their business hygienically, customers should always check a business’s hygiene rating if they want to minimise the risk of eating at an unsafe establishment.

When it comes to food hygiene ratings, it seems ignorance is not bliss. Over the past few years, there’s been an increasing demand for England to follow Northern Ireland and Wales in making it mandatory for businesses to display their ratings. In a recent survey, out of those that had heard of the FHRS, 95% thought that businesses should be required by law to display the food hygiene rating at their premises.

Customers should be more aware of Food Hygiene ratings, so they can spend their money in businesses that invest in their safety. They should be easier to access but I believe this could only be achieved by making it mandatory for businesses to display their ratings.

Profile of Eilidh Paton

Eilidh Paton
Owner of Alba Food Safety Consultancy

Whilst it’s still optional, however, it’s even more important to check individual food hygiene ratings using the Food Standards Agency’s information or by downloading the Scores on the Doors app on your mobile. Just put in the name of the place you want to check or enter your postcode to check the businesses in your local area.

Takeaways Need To Improve

According to our data, more than 1 in every 5 takeaways in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland have a hygiene rating of 3 or lower and only 55% scored a 5. In contrast, 81% of hotels received a 5 star rating, and 95% scored 4 and above.

Furthermore, the number of takeaways that require "major" or "urgent" improvement (a rating of one or lower), stands out as a problem area. Almost 3% of takeaways and sandwich shops across England, Northern Ireland, and Wales fall into this bracket.

These findings are not a surprise to Eilidh.

These results certainly fit with my experience. Takeaways, on average, tend to have a lower rating for a large number of reasons, but mainly it is down to much a larger number of orders per day than say, a B&B would. It’s fast food, so the customer expects to get it quickly, leaving less time for staff to focus on cleaning and paperwork.

Profile of Eilidh Paton

Eilidh Paton
Owner of Alba Food Safety Consultancy

Whilst it’s still optional, however, it’s even more important to check individual food hygiene ratings using the Food Standards Agency’s information or by downloading the Scores on the Doors app on your mobile. Just put in the name of the place you want to check or enter your postcode to check the businesses in your local area.

A Good Food Hygiene Rating Doesn’t Guarantee Good Food

Although the FHRS gives a good indication of cleanliness and safety, it does not cover factors such as the quality of food and skill of the chef making it. Surprisingly, the FSA awarded 83% of chain restaurants a top score of 5 compared to only 55% of Michelin star restaurants.

This is likely because the scheme actually lends itself more towards chain food outlets, as they don’t have a constant supply of fresh food entering the premises and have less flexible menus. Therefore, it’s easier to maintain the same standards of food handling, storage and preparation which can give a high food hygiene rating, even if the taste, presentation and customer service is not as good.

Food Hygiene Standards Are Not The Same Everywhere

Our report reveals the places where you can dine in confidence, and areas where it may be wise to check Food Hygiene ratings before eating out. If you’re in Southport, for example, you can assume an establishment will have a high standard of food hygiene as, on average, the Merseyside town is just shy of the highest possible rating at an average of 4.91. The risk of standards slipping is higher for those in Bolton, however, as their average ratings are the lowest in the UK at 3.97.

Northern Ireland has the highest average food hygiene rating in the UK, at an impressive 4.69, increasing from 4.59 in 2019. Furthermore, no region in Northern Ireland has a lower average rating than 4.5. This could be due to Ireland having to display Food Hygiene rating stickers at all food premises, whereas this is still optional in England. Perhaps if it were a legal requirement in England too, the difference between the two countries' ratings may decrease.

A scientific review published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has estimated that around 2.4 million cases of foodborne illness occur every year in the UK. Furthermore, eating out accounts for an estimated 37% of all foodborne norovirus cases. The dangers posed by businesses operating unhygienically are clear. It’s always best to double check a rating if you are unsure.

Only ⅓ of the Rating is Based on the Hygienic Handling of Food

There are three individual components that make up a food hygiene rating. Two thirds of the rating consider the building’s physical attributes and food safety management systems in place. We found that 2% of businesses in the UK have a rating of 2 or lower, suggesting that they required improvement. Not all of these concern the physical handling of food, however. For example issues such as peeling paint in the premises can affect the business’s overall ratings.

If your favourite restaurant scores less than a five, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are preparing your food unhygienically. This is why it’s important to do your research; if you look up an establishment on the Food Standards Agency’s website, you can see how well it scored in each of the three areas. This can give you a better idea of the factors behind the rating, so you can be more confident eating somewhere that hasn’t scored a five.



Data was downloaded on the 19th January 2022 from the official Food Standards Agency ‘UK food hygiene rating data API’ which details the overall food hygiene ratings, rating components, and inspection results of food establishments across the UK.

The Food Standards Agency data attributes each establishment with one of fourteen business types. Of these business types, four were selected for inclusion. These were:

  • Restaurants, Cafes, Canteens
  • Takeaways, Sandwich Shops
  • Pubs, Bars, Nightclubs
  • Hotels, Bed & Breakfasts/Guest Houses

After filtering, if a business did not have a current rating or an inspection result then the entry was omitted from the analysis.

This resulted in a filtered total of businesses, equalling 234,513 establishments that fell within these categories and which were then used for the overall ranking analysis.


The regions selected for analysis in this report are the same twelve regions as used by the Food Standards Agency, and so businesses were split according to the region associated with their business.

The cities and towns being compared were selected from records held by the Office for National Statistics and the National Archives.

To match the food hygiene ratings provided for businesses by the Food Standards Agency we performed postcode lookups through the use of an online database, allowing us to match the postcodes of businesses with their closest major city or town, and the major city or town with their region. If a business did not have a valid postcode, then the entry was omitted from our analysis.

Following this, we amalgamated the food hygiene ratings of each town and city to provide an aggregate rating of food hygiene ratings for an area.


Following the data download, and after cities and towns were matched to rated businesses by postcode, several steps were taken to ensure the data was clean and fit for purpose.

In several instances, to ensure that the data was of interest to certain regions, the local authorities (as defined by the Food Standards Agency) of a region were used to split a region into further areas instead of using a city/town split. However, to provide clarity, in the overall rankings only cities and towns are listed.

As mentioned above, entries in the data downloaded from the Food Standards Agency without a valid postcode were omitted from analysis.

Following the cleaning of the data, several lists were created with cities/towns in each region ranked according to their mean food hygiene ratings and then subsequently ranked according to their overall rank in the UK - leading to the lists you are presented with here.

Open Government Licence (OGL)

Food Standards Agency food hygiene ratings information, data and services are subject to the terms of the Open Government Licence (OGL).

The ratings are subject to change as they are regularly updated to reflect the standards found when a business is inspected by a local authority food safety officer.

Our study contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.


High Speed Training would like to thank the Food Standards Agency and the Office for National Statistics for providing the data needed to accomplish this study.

We’d also like to thank Cllr Paulette Lappin, Cabinet Member for Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services at Sefton Council.

Finally we would like to extend special thanks to Eilidh Paton at Alba Consultancy for supporting us with this study.

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