Restaurants warned customers are taking ‘one strike and you’re out’ approach to hygiene

Kitchen hygiene

Hospitality operators that fail to maintain high food hygiene standards and cleanliness post-Covid have been warned they risk losing business as consumers are less likely to give them a second chance.

Nearly two in three consumers agreed that hospitality hygiene standards have become more important since the pandemic, a new study from KAM Media shows.

It found that younger diners, in particular, are giving extra scrutiny to the hygiene records of restaurants. 42% of 18-34-year-olds are more likely to check Food Hygiene Ratings (FHRs) when visiting a hospitality venue than those in the 34-plus category.

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They were also 84% more likely to check FHRs when ordering for delivery than those over 34.

KAM Media said the results suggest a growing ‘one-strike and you’re out’ mentality among consumers when it comes to deciding where to go out for a drink or meal or order food for delivery.

In its survey of 500 UK adults, 69% said they wanted to see hand sanitising stations become a permanent feature.

More than half also wanted hospitality venues to continue to have extreme hygiene measures evident, displayed, and transparent.

The top five considerations for choosing a venue were ranked as food quality, prices, cleanliness of venue, range of food and the Food Hygiene Rating (FHR).

The FHR was third in importance when choosing a restaurant for a food delivery.

Food Hygiene Ratings should be visible in venues, said respondents, with four being the minimum standard that was considered acceptable. With newly opened venues, the majority expect to see a rating of 5.

Some 49% of consumers had a ‘one strike and you’re out’ policy when it came to bad hygiene standards.

Consumers wrongly believed that venues were inspected for food hygiene standards every six weeks on average, yet the reality is that even annual inspections are being delayed.

Mike Williams, operations director at consultants Food Alert, said: “As we emerge from the pandemic it’s clear that consumer hygiene awareness has heightened and shows no sign of waning.  Those venues that can prove they operate the highest levels of hygiene and food safety will be the ones to win trust and enjoy strong relationships with their customers and build sustainable businesses going forward.

Blake Gladman, strategy and insights director at KAM, said: “Covid-19 has catapulted hygiene to the top of consumers’ minds. It’s now an absolutely key consideration when deciding which venues to visit and where to avoid.

“This heightened awareness means that consumers are more ‘ratings aware’ and also incredibly unforgiving when standards fall; if a venue falls short of a customer’s hygiene expectations just once they risk losing that customer for good. This research shows that there is now no room for error.”

Hygiene measures to play key role in restaurant recovery

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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