Evaluation of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and the Food Hygiene Information Scheme

Funded by: Food Standards Agency


October 2011 to March 2014

PSI researchers:

Sandra Vegeris

Genevieve Knight

Kim Vowden

Background, summary and aims

Background, Scope and Aims

Providing advice and information on food safety, forms a key strand of the work carried out by the Food Standards Agency. The Agency aims to ensure that food in the UK is safe to eat, and consumers are provided with reliable and timely advice and evidence on food safety. The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Food Hygiene Information Scheme in Scotland are flagship policies for the Food Standards Agency aimed at informing the public of the hygiene standards in food businesses. The intent of the national schemes is to provide information on the hygiene standards of food businesses in a consistent way so as to inform consumer choice and food purchase behaviour more effectively, with the overarching goal of reducing food borne illness.

This UK wide evaluation is an assessment of the operation and the impact of these national schemes.

Project Design

This comprehensive evaluation comprises a process study and an impact analysis of the schemes. The mixed method and longitudinal process study comprises a study of early implementation and an operational assessment once the scheme has been running for some time. The process study methods include surveys of food businesses and consumers and a case study design incorporating qualitative methods including telephone interviews with local authority food safety team staff, interviews with food business owners/managers and focus groups with consumers.

The impact study will seek to determine the effects of the national FHRS, and FHIS in Scotland on the incidence of food borne illness.

Importance of Research

These schemes are flagship policies that aim to provide information on food hygiene to the public in order to influence consumers' food purchase behaviour which in turn acts as a driver influencing food businesses to improve hygiene standards on their premises. These initiatives form part of a programme of work led by the Food Standards Agency following food borne illness outbreaks in Wales.

Related publications / project outputs

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and the Food Hygiene Information Scheme: Evaluation findings 2011-2014