Food safety 'expert' calls for mandatory display of food hygiene ratings

Food safety expert calls for mandatory display of food hygiene ratings Navitas Group
04/07/2019 - 05:00
Navitas Group helps businesses meet their food safety requirements and has called for the mandatory display of food hygiene ratings in England and Scotland.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is run by the Food Standards Agency and gives businesses a rating from zero to five. Zero means urgent improvement is required, three means the hygiene standards are generally satisfactory and five means the hygiene standards are very good.

A survey conducted by One Poll, on 2,000 adults who had eaten in a restaurant, a takeaway or pre-packed sandwich in February 2019, found that 60% of people were unaware that the food hygiene ratings were only voluntary in England and Scotland.

Navitas Group believes that having a mandatory display of food hygiene ratings would help create consistency, transparency and lead to greater accountability of food establishments.

Bob Mackay, technical director at the Navitas Group, said: “There are thousands of restaurants and takeaways with ratings of two stars or lower in England and or where improvement is required in Scotland. Part of the solution is surely to make display of food hygiene ratings mandatory as it already is in Northern Ireland and Wales.

“The Food Standards Agency has been doing some great campaigning making diners aware of how and where they can check the ratings and what they mean. But it’s incumbent on everyone in the food and hospitality business right across the country to share that message too.”

According to the survey, only 20% of people said they always check the food hygiene rating before eating in a restaurant or getting a takeaway. 27% said three stars is the minimum food hygiene rating a food outlet would need for them to consider eating there, 45% said four stars while 13% claimed they would only eat at five star establishments.

The research revealed that if people found out the restaurant or takeaway had a low food hygiene rating it would put them off eating there almost as much as having a bad experience. 83% of the people surveyed said they would probably not return to an establishment with a low rating, even if they enjoyed eating there and 37% said they definitely wouldn’t go back.

Mackay, added: “Eating out has never been so popular and the choices so varied, and this research shows that people do want to 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.

“On the other hand the lack of consistency in the display of food hygiene ratings and low awareness is not helping people make informed choices.”

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