Tighter food hygiene display regs should be imposed on restaurants

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09: A Food Standards Agency rating certificate is pictured in the window of a restaurant on February 9, 2015 in London, England. Claims have been made that some restaurants are ignoring food hygiene standards ratings. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

An overwhelming 98% of consumers want the law changed to make all restaurants in England publicly display their Food Standards Agency (FSA) Food Hygiene Ratings, new research suggests.

Currently, ratings must be displayed in Wales and Northern Ireland, but it is not compulsory in England.

A poll conducted by food safety technology company Checkit showed that 92% of diners think displaying these ‘scores on the doors’ will make eating out safer by encouraging restaurants and other businesses to improve their standards.

The evidence supports this – since it has been mandatory for restaurants in Wales to display their food hygiene score, the percentage of food businesses with a top rating of 5 has increased from 45% to 63%.

The research also found that consumers take the food hygiene rating into account when choosing where to eat. 91% said they’d always or often choose to eat somewhere with the highest ratings of 4 or 5. Previous research by Checkit found that 61% of consumers won’t eat at a restaurant, takeaway, coffee shop or pub that has a rating of 2 or below.

Today, only 58% of English food businesses have the highest Food Hygiene Rating of 5, according to the latest Food Standards Agency data.

Making it compulsory for restaurants to display their hygiene rating can only raise standards, helping to avoid cases where diners suffer food poisoning or even die due to poor food hygiene, said Checkit.

“Our research found an overwhelming percentage of consumers are demanding that restaurants display their food hygiene ratings and that they see a clear link between ratings and quality,” said David Davies, managing director of Checkit.net. “This means it is vital for restaurants to aim as high as possible if they want to safeguard and increase their revenues.”

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