Look before you book’ this Christmas, says Food Standards Agency

THE FOOD Standards Agency (FSA) is calling on people to check the food hygiene ratings of restaurants before booking Christmas meals out with family and friends. A poll released today found that four in ten of the UK public (41%) never check food hygiene ratings of places they plan to eat in.

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This is despite 39% of people reporting that they had a bad experience when eating out and suspecting they contracted food poisoning from a restaurant or takeaway.


The findings of the FSA poll released this week show one in four people (25%) plan to book their festive meals during this week and next.


Once the food hygiene ratings were explained, 83% of those polled said that they would not consider eating at a restaurant rated lower than a 3. Only 3% of people said that they are unconcerned by the rating and that they would take their chances anywhere, if they were hungry. 57% said they wouldn’t go to a festive meal if they found out the restaurant had a low rating.


Catriona Stewart, Head of the Food Hygiene Ratings Scheme, said: “We are urging everybody to look before they book if planning that special Christmas meal. We want to tell people that it’s quick and easy to check a restaurant’s food hygiene rating. They can look on the FSA website or, if they are out and about, check for the green and black ratings sticker on display or ask restaurant staff.


“91% of restaurants are rated 3 and above. We hope this survey will encourage those restaurants that have a low rating to improve their food hygiene practices.”
Environmental Health Officer, Emma Richbell said: “Most restaurants have a rating of 3 or above, however, as an inspector, I often think consumers would be surprised at which restaurants fall short of good practice. I’d urge everybody to look at the official food hygiene rating, rather than chance it by choosing a place they think will be okay.”


Restaurants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are given a ‘hygiene rating’, which shows how closely the business is meeting the requirements of food hygiene law. Ratings range from 0 being the worst to 5 being the best. These results are available on the FSA website but many restaurants also display a green and black ratings sticker in their window or door.


For more information or to check the food hygiene rating of your local restaurant, takeaway or café visit: www.food.gov.uk/ratings.