The six-tier national scheme, which the Food Standards Agency (FSA) hopes will eventually replace the current local authority-run Scores On the Doors schemes, is to be adopted initially throughout Wales and in several regions of the South West, East and South East of England.
All businesses which sell food in these areas will be inspected and given a score which will be displayed on the FSA's website. Ratings range from 0 (urgent improvement necessary) to five (very good). Stores will also be encouraged, but not required, to display their scores.
Those which choose not to display their rating could be shunned by shoppers, an FSA spokeswoman warned. "A good food hygiene rating is good for business, and the scheme will be promoted to consumers so that they will start making their own judgements if they do not see a rating," she said.
"FHRS will help consumers choose where to eat out or shop for food, and they will be able to easily compare one business with another."