98% of consumers want the law changed to make all restaurants in England publicly display their Food Standards Agency (FSA) Food Hygiene Ratings, according to new research carried out by food safety technology company Checkit.net. Currently, ratings must be displayed in Wales and Northern Ireland, but in England it is not compulsory.
92% of diners say 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.net found that 61% of consumers won’t eat at a restaurant, takeaway, coffee shop or pub that has a rating of 2 or below. The message is clear – a restaurant’s Food Hygiene Rating is directly linked to sales, meaning that businesses are losing customers and revenue to restaurants with higher Food Hygiene ratings, ultimately putting their survival at risk.
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.
“These findings demonstrate that the public rely on food hygiene ratings when they choose where to eat – and that nearly all consumers want to be able to immediately see the rating of food businesses before they choose where to dine,” said Nina Purcell, Director of Regulatory Delivery and Wales, Food Standards Agency. “The FSA is currently developing the case for making display of ratings mandatory in England and this research shows that consumers would very much welcome such a move.”
“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, Checkit.net.
“This means it is vital for restaurants to aim as high as possible if they want to safeguard and increase their revenues. Simply getting a 3 is not enough anymore, but many businesses are held back by time-consuming, paper-based checklists that make food safety difficult to manage, record and monitor. It is time to switch to digital systems that make the process seamless and quick, deliver cost savings that equate to at least a day of staff time every month in a small restaurant, and provide proof to food inspectors that demonstrate they are meeting the highest standards.”
The Checkit.net Study is based on research carried out online with 1,000 consumers living in England in November 2016.