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22. September 2023

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About the Danish Smiley Scheme

The Smiley Scheme informs consumers and increases food companies' compliance with rules and regulations – thus increasing food safety.

​​​The Danes have seen smileys on inspection reports, in all their retail food enterprises since 2001.

The four different smileys signals how well the enterprise  complies with food regulations.

In 2008 the elite-smiley was introduced. Enterprises with the best inspection records are now using this in their marketing.

The reports must be displayed for consumers to read, before they decide to enter a shop or a restaurant.

The reports must also be made easily available on the enterprises' own websites.

The philosophy behind the Smiley Scheme is for consumer to make more informed choices on where to shop and to give food enterprises an incentive to secure a high food safety.

Food establishments are responsible 

In Denmark all food establishments are responsible for complying with the food regulations. At unannounced inspections, the public food inspectors check, how well the enterprises are at this.

All shops, restaurants and other enterprises selling foods and beverages are subject to inspections by The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration.

Read more about inspection of food establishments​

Smiley-reports must be posted at the entrances in all supermarkets, groceries, bakeries, butchers, greengrocers, kiosks, restaurants, pizzerias, canteens, hospital kitchens and elderly homes. All establishments including wholesalers producing and selling food to other establishments must show the last four inspection reports at their website. Wholesalers are e.g. dairies, slaughterhouses and importers. 

What do the smileys symbolize?

There are four different smileys. They symbolise:

​No remarks
​Enjoining order
​Injunction or prohibitary order
​Administrative penalties, reported to the police, or approval withdrawn.

Enterprises with hazardous health conditions are closed down until problems are fixed.

The smiley is determined by the worst result

At each inspection a number of areas are checked, and assigned a result (1 - 4). All results, and all the inspectors' remarks, are published on the inspection report. The smiley for the inspection is determined by the worst of the results.

Enterprises with poor results will get a follow-up inspection, paid by the enterprise.


The elite-smiley is awarded to enterprises with the best inspection history.

Enterprises with only happy smiles on their last four inspection-reports – and no remarks during the last 12 month – may use the elite-smiley in their marketing.