Pubs warned customers 'will leave in droves' over food hygiene ratings

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

Food hygiene: displaying ratings could soon be made mandatory in England
Food hygiene: displaying ratings could soon be made mandatory in England

Related tags: Food hygiene ratings, Food standards agency, Hygiene, Food

Pubs and restaurant that fail to achieve good food hygiene ratings should be prepared to lose customers to their competition, new research warns. 

Nearly half of all customers (44%) would never go near a pub or restaurant with a food hygiene rating below a three, according to a report into the Food Hygiene Ratings Scheme by NFU Mutual.

Darren Seward, hospitality sector specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “If a business is failing to put the safety of customers above anything else it should come as no surprise when they lose them to their more hygienic competitors.”

Only 24% of customers aged between 18 and 24 generally assume pubs to have good food hygiene ratings and believe hotels, bakeries, casual and fine-dining restaurants to have better standards, NFU Mutual discovered.

More trusting

However, older generations were found to be far more trusting of the sector’s food safety standards, with more than 50% of 45 to 54-year-olds saying they generally assumed pubs’ food hygiene ratings to be good or very good.

“When it comes to our health, we’re understandably unwilling to compromise on cleanliness. The report found that almost nine out of 10 people would refuse to eat at a place with three stars (generally satisfactory) or lower food hygiene rating – even if it was their favourite restaurant,” said Seward.

“The NFU Mutual report also reveals almost one in eight UK businesses serving food are currently rated between zero and three stars. That’s a staggering 65,000 pubs, restaurants, cafés and supermarkets that 88% of the survey respondents say they wouldn’t visit.”

Wake-up call

He added: “This should act as an urgent wake-up call to these businesses – your customers will leave in droves if they believe you are risking their health.”

Despite this, 80% of people were currently unaware of the food hygiene ratings for their favourite venues, according to the report.

However, English pubs could soon be forced to display food hygiene ratings​ on their doors, as bodies including the Food Standards Agency have called for the extension of legislation already in place in Wales and Northern Ireland, which makes it mandatory.

Public support is already overwhelmingly behind such legislation, with as many as 92% of diners believing to do so would make eating out safer​ and encourage businesses to improve standards.

Earlier this week, a former licensee was hit with a massive bill after pleading guilty to a slew of food safety violations​ at the Northgate, Oldham. 

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