New research has revealed that 58% of UK customers would not consider eating food from an outlet with a hygiene rating lower than four stars.
The research, carried out by Navitas, follows the news that Just Eat will begin publishing the food hygiene rating of all restaurants on its delivery platform and has removed all zero-rated restaurants from the platform.
The survey, which included under 2,000 participants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, found that a 3-star rating was considered adequate by just 27% of people.
45% said that 4 stars was the minimum rating they would expect a food outlet to have and 13% claimed they would only eat at 5-star establishments.
The research also found that discovering a food outlet had a lower than anticipated hygiene rating would put 83% of people off going back even if they had enjoyed eating there before.
The display of food hygiene ratings is not mandatory in England and fewer than one in five of people (19%) always check the food hygiene rating of a restaurant or takeaway before eating out.
Bob Mackay, a qualified environmental health practitioner and technical director with Navitas Group who has previously called for the mandatory display of food hygiene ratings right across the UK has welcomed the move by Just Eat as a step towards creating consistency and greater transparency for consumers and raising food hygiene standards.
He said: “This move is good news and supports the work the Food Standards Agency has been doing making diners aware of how and where they can check food hygiene ratings and should create the impetus for food outlets to raise their standards if they want to be listed by achieving a minimum of 3 stars.
However, as our research shows, food outlets should be aiming higher if they want to attract and retain customers and should ideally be aiming to beat or match the competition by targeting a 5-star rating.”
According to Mackay, raising and maintaining food hygiene standards should be a key focus for any food business.
He concluded: “Eating out has never been so popular and the choices so varied.
“Our research shows that people do want to make informed choices and be confident that the food they’re eating away from home has been stored, prepped and cooked safely and correctly and to good hygiene standards.”