Look before you book this festive season

Good company, great food, Christmas crackers and all the trimmings are usually the ingredients for a great meal out during the festive season.  What about the food hygiene rating?  Whatever your recipe for eating out this Christmas, the District Council recommends  you should choose one of the 485 eateries in the Forest of Dean with a rating of 3 or more.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme rates food businesses on their hygiene standards, based on inspections carried out by Environmental Regulatory Services (ERS) officers on behalf of the District Council.

Businesses in the area are rated on a scale ranging from 0 (‘urgent improvement necessary’) to a top rating of 5 (‘very good’).

93% of food businesses included in the scheme in the Forest of Dean have a food hygiene rating of 3 or above. 69% of Forest food businesses have achieved the highest rating of 5 – Very Good. Only a very small percentage, 5% of Forest Businesses are rated at 2 or below.

So, whether you’re planning a festive meal out with family, friends or work colleagues or just grabbing a quick lunch when out Christmas shopping; don’t only consider the menu – make sure you check the food hygiene rating too and look before you book!

Look out for the green and black food hygiene rating stickers displayed on windows and doors to find out how businesses in the district are doing.  If you can’t see a sticker, then ask staff or check online at www.food.gov.uk/ratings

Nina Purcell, Director of Local Delivery at the Food Standards Agency said: “You need to consider a lot of things when picking the perfect venue for your Christmas party, but please don’t forget about the food hygiene rating. It’s very easy to check on our website or just ask the business. We recommend food businesses with at least a ‘3’ and most food businesses are achieving this. There are plenty of potential regrets at the work Christmas party, but you can help to ensure food poisoning isn’t one of them.”

Cllr Chris McFarling, Cabinet Member for the Environment added:  “We have a huge selection of excellent food businesses in the district and with the majority of them rated three or above under the food hygiene rating scheme, it makes it easier to choose to eat out in places where food hygiene is taken seriously, so there is no need to risk food poisoning while eating out this Christmas.

“For food businesses a higher rating can bring huge benefits.  A sticker in the window or an online check will reassure your existing customers and help win new ones.  A good rating will be great for business during the festive season and will help to encourage more customers through the door.”

Additional Information

The Food Hygiene Ratings can be found on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website www.food.gov.uk/ratings or through the Forest of Dean District Council’s website via


Frequently asked questions and answers about the Food Hygiene Ratings Scheme can be found on the FSA website www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/hygiene-rating-schemes/rating-schemes-faqs-en

The Forest of Dean District Council and the FSA want to:

Give consumers information about hygiene standards in food outlets so that they can make informed choices.

Drive up hygiene standards in food businesses.

Reduce the incidence of foodborne illness (recent research estimated that there were 500,000 cases from the main causes of foodborne illness.  Including all types of food borne disease could double this figure to nearer 1 million cases).

The rating scheme covers businesses supplying or serving food direct to consumers such as restaurants, takeaways, cafés, pubs, hotels, schools, hospitals, care homes, supermarkets and other retailers.

There are six hygiene ratings ranging from ‘0’ (urgent improvement required) at the bottom to ‘5’ (very good) at the top.

The scheme is designed so that all businesses, no matter how small can achieve the top rating by meeting (not exceeding) the legal requirements and any improvements needed to get a higher rating are no more than is required by law.

Latest figures show that the percentage of food businesses achieving the highest rating of ‘5’ has risen from 53% in 2015 to 67% in 2017. They also show that 95% of all food business have received a rating of at least a ‘3’.


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