Get ready for new food hygiene legislation, UK businesses warned

Posted: 22 June 2017 | | 2 comments

The NFU Mutual Food Hygiene Ratings Report, published today, reveals that 44% of people would turn away from even their favourite places to eat and try somewhere else instead, if a food hygiene rating of less than four out of five was on display.

  • Research assesses the potential impact of legislation to display food hygiene ratings
  • 44% of customers would turn away at the door if faced with a rating of 3 out of 5 or less
  • Over 43,000 catering and hospitality businesses in England could be affected

Almost half (44%) of customers could physically turn away from the front doors of more than 43,000 restaurants, takeaways, cafés and pubs when food businesses in England are legally required to display their food hygiene ratings, according to research by commercial insurer NFU Mutual.

Commenting on the report, Darren Seward, Hospitality Sector Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Our report shows that when it comes to food safety customers have naturally high standards and that a ‘good’ score can no longer be seen as an aspiration but a minimum benchmark. 

“It’s fantastic to see that over 82% of all hospitality-sector food outlets in England have a rating of good or very good and the industry as a whole is taking real pride in food hygiene, but imminent compulsory displays are destined to be a game changer for those businesses struggling to reach the top grades. In advance of legislation changes all business owners should prioritise their food hygiene plans and processes, acting now to ensure that they have considered all hygiene and paperwork aspects rated by their local authority including cleanliness, structure and confidence in management, to ensure a continued rating of 4 or 5 for the day an inspector calls. Our free Food Hygiene Ratings Report also contains advice to help businesses achieve a good rating.”

The report, which assesses consumer attitudes, public support for new legislation and its potential impact, shows that in total over 65,000 – almost one in seven – relevant businesses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have a food hygiene rating of three (generally satisfactory) or below – with over 43,000 of these being catering and hospitality businesses in England. Over 82% of all English catering and hospitality businesses have a hygiene rating of 4 (good) or 5 (very good). A different scheme is used in Scotland.

Wales and Northern Ireland have already subscribed to mandatory display of food hygiene ratings schemes, with new legislation set to come into force in England by 2019, and a comparable Scottish scheme likely to follow suit. Mandatory display means any outlet that serves or sells food must display its score in a prominent place such as the front door or window.

Running in Wales since 2013, the mandatory ratings display scheme has been hailed by its Deputy Health Minister as a big success story, helping to drive up industry standards – so much so that the number of businesses with the highest rating of 5, ‘very good’, has risen to 60.8% in November 2016 from 45% prior to the legislation coming into force.

The NFU Mutual report found that a law for compulsory display of rating stickers in England and Scotland has gained the support of consumers, with 88% in favour and 66% strongly so.

2 responses to “Get ready for new food hygiene legislation, UK businesses warned”

  1. Susan Brown says:

    There is no doubt that the compulsory display of Food Hygiene Ratings will improve standards of food hygiene compliance in food businesses in England, if it goes ahead. Speaking from experience of as an EHO in Food Safety I am well aware that the FHRS scheme has helped to improve standards in food businesses but some sectors still need to do a lot more. Further to David’s comments about ratings over 2 years old. Given the background of cuts to Local Government funding of Food Safety & Environmental Health Departments this is hardly surprising. Teams increasingly focus their attention on failing food businesses with rating 0-2 as well as Category A & B (under the Code of Practice on Food Law). The Food Standards Agency ‘Regulating our Future’ agenda will, if it goes ahead, fundamentally change food regulation and private sector hygiene inspection may become normal. However, I have my reservations about these proposals and if it proceeds proper control, oversight and auditing of accreditation schemes will be required. Food Safety is too important to deregulate without close oversight.

  2. David Edwards says:

    The FSA food Hygiene Rating scheme has been a great success and the NFU Mutual report provides practical help. However, there is a developing problem. A recent freedom of information request reveals that over 100,000 FHRS ratings are more than two years old a figure that also includes over 600 ratings of 1 or 0 which by the FSAs own definition require major or urgent action. It is hardly credible in these days of instant information and very current trip advisor ratings to ask consumers to rely on such old data. The local authorities making the inspections need more resource or the FSA needs to open up the inspection system to the private sector to allow more up to date information to be provided.

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