Businesses in Lincolnshire have been warned to prepare for new food hygiene legislation, with analysts warning those with below-exceptional scores that they could see a drop in custom.
Commercial insurer NFU Mutual has suggested that as many as 44% of people would turn away from their favourite cafe or restaurant if their displayed rating was ‘generally satisfactory’ or less.
More than 92% of businesses in Lincolnshire have food hygiene ratings of four (good) or five (very good), but according to the Food Standards Agency, some 560 businesses in Lincolnshire have a rating of three or less and could be affected by the move.
New legislation is set to come into effect in England by 2019, with mandatory display meaning any outlet that serves or sells food must display its score in a prominent place such as the front door or window.
Commenting on a report into the affects of the legislation published on Monday, February 6, Phil Ingleby, Agent at NFU Mutual in Spalding, 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.
“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.”
Lincolnshire Business has spoken with a number of county businesses to find out how they are preparing for new ‘scores on the doors’ rules.
George Tomlinson from the Gainsborough-based Redhill Farm said that it’s important for customers to see food hygiene ratings displayed, particularly when trading at county markets.
He said: “It’s really simple for the customer to see the standard that we’re put at. It’s important for people to see the food hygiene ratings, especially with us selling raw meat, it’s really important to maintain a high standard.”
Shaun Holman, who is a member of staff at the JayDees restaurant on Waterside South in Lincoln, explained that the business does not currently display its rating in the window.
He said “The reason we don’t have ours on the window is through the owners’ decision. We have a four star rating, and the reason we have this is down to a few structural issues.
“On the health and safety side of things all of that is up to date and where it should be. But because it’s a four people will think in their heads ‘why is it a four and not five?”
Customers approached by Lincolnshire Business largely shared the view that food hygiene ratings should be displayed for both piece of mind and transparency.
Ryan Austin, said: “It would stop bad hygiene, bad food and less chance of illness. It would be really good to stop dodgy businesses.
“If you go and pay a premium you would expect it to be a premium rated food hygiene. If you go and pay for something dirt cheap you’d appreciate it would be a bit lax but nothing to compromise your health.”
Chris Tuck, said: “There are certainly places in this area which have low hygiene ratings and have reputations for poor hygiene which I wasn’t previously aware of because there wasn’t a legal requirement to have this rating outside.
“Once word of mouth got around you realised and wished you had known sooner, so it definitely would have an effect on me.”
Tammy Simpson, added: “I would advise companies to put the ratings on the window because I would like to see it.
“If their rating was low I’d be questioning their hygiene and how clean it is, what they’re doing with their food, how their prep is, their dates on the food.”