Fish and chip shops must prepare for new food hygiene laws, warns commercial insurer NFU Mutual as research reveals almost half (44%) of consumers will turn their back on a food outlet with a food hygiene rating of three or less.
The Food Hygiene Ratings Report, which comes ahead of new legislation set to come into force by 2019 which will require all food establishments across England to display their rating, claims this could hit more than 43,000 businesses and it urges outlets to take action sooner rather than later.
According to the report, one in seven businesses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland has a rating of three or below, while over 82% of English catering and hospitality businesses has a hygiene rating of four or five.
Commenting on the report, Darren Seward, hospitality sector specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Our report shows that when it comes to food safety customers have naturally high standards and that a ‘good’ score can no longer be seen as an aspiration but a minimum benchmark.
“It’s fantastic to see that over 82% of all hospitality-sector food outlets in England have a rating of good or very good and the industry as a whole is taking real pride in food hygiene, but imminent compulsory displays are destined to be a game changer for those businesses struggling to reach the top grades. In advance of legislation changes all business owners should prioritise their food hygiene plans and processes, acting now to ensure that they have considered all hygiene and paperwork aspects rated by their local authority including cleanliness, structure and confidence in management, to ensure a continued rating of 4 or 5 for the day an inspector calls.”
In Wales and Northern Ireland it has been mandatory to display food hygiene ratings in a prominent place, for example on the front door or window, for a number of years and its effect on driving up standards has been widely noted. In Wales for example, the percentage of food businesses with a top rating of 5 has increased from 45% before the legislation came into force to 60% by the end of 2016.
According to the NFU Mutual report, the move to make businesses display their food hygiene ratings has the support of the public with 88% of consumers in England and 66% in Scotland in favour of the scheme.
Click here for a free copy of the NFU Mutual’s Food Hygiene Ratings Report, which contains advice to help businesses achieve a good rating.