A new Food Hygiene Ratings report analysing data from a quarter of a million food businesses across the UK, investigates how regions and towns compare across the nation.
A Yorkshire based training provider took an in-depth look at the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and aggregated Food Standards Agency data to provide an overall picture of the nation, complete with interactive map and league tables.
Harrogate came out on top with an outstanding average rating of 4.85 out of 5, closely followed by Hastings with 4.82, and Southport coming in third. Councillor Mike Chambers of Harrogate Borough Council proudly states that “this recognition is testament to the hard work of our officers who ensure that hygiene standards in food businesses remains consistently high”.
Walsall, Luton, Birmingham and Bolton had the lowest average scores on the towns and cities table. Analysis showed 1 in 5 Birmingham establishments had a rating of 2 or lower. London placed last in the regional table, with Barking and Dagenham scoring an average of 3.43.
Takeaways were the biggest offenders across the UK, with 1 in 9 rated two or lower. This comes as Just Eat announces their plans to invest £1 million into a food safety programme and introduces a minimum standard rating of 3 for all new restaurant sign ups.
“Our report aims to improve consumers’ understanding of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and the Scottish Food Hygiene Information Scheme, so they can make informed decisions around where to eat and drink”
explains Lee Batchelor, who led the data team on the project.”
The ratings are based on more than just personal hygiene. There are different areas of inspection and the schemes do have their limitations. It’s just about understanding that and knowing where to get the right information”.
Eilidh Paton, Chartered Environmental Health Officer in Glasgow, says for consumers in Scotland: “Overall, I believe that the public should educate themselves on a business’s rating, as those that are ‘improvement required’ are generally not operating according to the law”.
The calls for the mandatory display of food hygiene ratings in England and Scotland are increasing, with Brexit seen as an opportunity for this to be looked at once more. However, with the current political uncertainty in the UK, there is yet to be any legislation tabled. Consumers must seek the information out if an establishment doesn’t display their rating.
Analyst Adam Rhodes said “we also wanted businesses to know how much consumers care about food hygiene standards. The newest public attitudes report from the FSA shows 84% are aware of food safety outside of the home, and public consciousness is growing. One poor inspection could really damage your business”.