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In restaurants, takeaways, delis and food shops, a green and black sign now alerts diners and consumers to the hygiene standards of an establishment. On an increasing scale from zero to five, the circled number quickly informs potential clients of what they need to know in terms of cleanliness.

Are food hygiene ratings reliable?

Like all surveys and inspections, the ratings are only accurate for the time the assessment took place. However, as inspections performed by the Food Standards Agency are unannounced, the consumer is right to place trust in their validity.

There can be no doubt that receiving a full five marks is a definite bonus for anyone in the food service industry. It tells the consumer that you prioritise health and safety. When a business only gains a rating of zero to three, this suggests it has some hygiene issues.

Low score: don’t put it on the door?

Of course, some unscrupulous businesses might receive a low rating and fail to display it. In 2018, The Local Government Association (LGA) claimed that half of businesses in England did not display their food hygiene ratings. Whilst in Northern Ireland and Wales it is mandatory to display this, in England it is not.

Consumers can visit the Food Standard Agency website to check up on a business’ rating. However, with more than half of people in the UK either using a website or an app to order food, speed and ease is a prerequisite. Trawling through the FSA website looking for a hygiene rating before ordering isn’t high on most people’s agendas – getting a timely Saturday night delivery is.

However, legislation may become tougher in regards to non compliance, as many are demanding that it becomes mandatory and enforceable to display accurate food ratings.

Food hygiene ratings: the consumer’s friend

Keeping consumers safe should be a top priority for everyone working with food. Gaining a rating of 5 is worth celebrating and promoting in any food based industry. It demonstrates that your business is responsible and most importantly, clean and safe.


Photo: IMG_1338 by SodexoUSA licensed under Creative Commons 4.0