According to the FSA Food and You survey of 3,118 adults, 72% of consumers said that the cleanliness and hygiene of the establishment was important to them.
Overall, a third (30%) who ate out considered this the most important factor while a good hygiene rating was mentioned by 43% of respondents.
Influenced by cleanliness
Women were more likely than men to be influenced by the cleanliness and hygiene of the establishment when deciding where to eat out (75% of women, 69% of men).
The definition of eating out in the survey encompassed eating or buying food from a wide range of venues including restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs, cafés, coffee shops, sandwich bars, fast-food outlets, canteens, hotels and stalls, as well as takeaway food.
Almost all respondents (96%) ate out, with 43% doing so at least once or twice a week. There was some variation by gender, 50% of men ate out at least once or twice a week compared with 38% of women.
The youngest respondents (aged 16 to 24) were more likely than other groups to say that the price of food was the most important factor in deciding where to eat out (18%) compared to 4% to 12% in older groups.
Respondents most commonly used their own experience of establishments (64%) when deciding where to eat out. Around half (45%) took word of mouth and recommendations from friends or family (47%) into account.
Seen the sticker
The majority of respondents (83%) reported having seen the sticker belonging to the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS).
Recognition of the FHRS was associated with age: 93% of those aged 16 to 34 recognised the images compared to less than half (43%) of those aged 75 and over. Recognition of the FHRS was higher in Wales (89%) and Northern Ireland (89%) than in England (82%).
The report has been produced by NatCen Social Research under a contract placed by the FSA.