90% of food businesses in Northern Ireland expected to be displaying food hygiene ratings…
…but only a third of us regularly look for them
Food Hygiene Rating Scheme
Around 90% of food businesses in Northern Ireland should now be displaying their food hygiene rating sticker following the Food Hygiene Rating Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 coming into force in October. But, according to new research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA)[i], only a third (34%) of us regularly check food hygiene ratings before eating in a restaurant or takeaway. With an estimated 4.3 million meals expected to be eaten out over this festive period[ii] the FSA is urging people to check a restaurant’s food hygiene rating before booking this Christmas.
The research, released ahead of the expected Christmas spike in restaurant bookings, found that although food hygiene and safety were of concern for 37% of people, only 6% said that they actively consider the food hygiene rating when deciding where to eat. Other priorities included:
- Quality/type of food (58%)
- Own experience of the place (32%)
- Location/convenience (23%)
- Good service (21%)
- Price (20%)
- Appearance (20%)
- Recommendation (19%)
Mark O’Neill, Senior Advisor, Local Authority Policy and Delivery, Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland said: “We are pleased to see that so many food businesses in Northern Ireland are already compliant with the Food Hygiene Rating Act, which came into operation in October, making it mandatory for food businesses to display their hygiene ratings. This means that around 90% of businesses should now be displaying hygiene information on a green and black sticker somewhere easy to spot outside of their premises. We expect that consumers will be pleased with this development as our recent survey showed that 95% of people in Northern Ireland believe that businesses should have to display their ratings, which now they do.
“We are now urging people to make the most of this new transparency by looking for these ratings and choosing restaurants which score three or above this Christmas. That way we can all play a part in improving food hygiene standards in Northern Ireland.”
No matter what the hygiene rating of the food business, they now have by law to display the rating sticker given by the district council following inspection. This can range from ‘5’ which means the food hygiene standards are very good, down to ‘0’ where urgent improvement is necessary. This instant and visible hygiene rating information will help people choose where to eat out in restaurants, pubs and cafes this Christmas. It will also provide guidance when shopping and buying food in supermarkets and other food shops as well as for hospitals, care homes and schools.