Six in 10 customers regard a 4-star food hygiene rating as the minimum a food outlet would need for them to consider eating there.
Research from Navitas Group – which comes in the wake of news that Just Eat plans to publish the food hygiene rating of all restaurants on its delivery platform – also revealed that a 3-star rating was considered adequate by just 27%, while 45% said that 4 stars was the minimum rating they would expect a food outlet to have.
Some 13% claimed they would only eat at 5-star establishments.
The research also found that discovering a food outlet had a lower than anticipated hygiene rating would put people off going back almost as much as a poor dining experience – even if they had enjoyed eating there before.
83% of diners said they would either probably not / or definitely not go back to a restaurant or takeaway they discovered had a low rating even if they had enjoyed eating there before.
Over a third (37%) said they would definitely not go back.
The display of food hygiene ratings is not mandatory in England and fewer than one in five of people admit to always checking the food hygiene rating of a restaurant or takeaway before eating out.
Bob Mackay, technical director at the Navitas Group, said: “Food outlets should be aiming higher if they want to attract and retain customers and should ideally be aiming to beat or match the competition by targeting a 5-star rating.
“Eating out has never been so popular and the choices so varied. Our research shows that people do want to make informed choices and be confident that the food they’re eating away from home has been stored, prepped and cooked safely and correctly and to good hygiene standards.”