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News research shows 4 stars is minimum Food Hygiene Rating expected by customers

58% would not knowingly eat at a food outlet with less than a 4-star hygiene rating

As Just Eat announces that it is publishing the food hygiene rating of all restaurants on its delivery platform and only listing restaurants with a minimum of 3 stars, research from Navitas Group highlights that for 58% of customers a 4-star food hygiene rating is the minimum a food outlet would need for them to consider eating there.


Navitas’s survey of just under 2,000 people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who had eaten out at a restaurant or bought from a takeaway in the last month found that a 3-star rating (indicating hygiene standards are generally satisfactory) was considered adequate by just 27%, whilst 45% said that 4 stars (indicating good food hygiene standards) was the minimum rating they would expect a food outlet to have and some 13% claimed they would only eat at 5-star establishments (where hygiene standards are very good).


The research also found that discovering a food outlet had a lower than anticipated hygiene rating would put people off going back almost as much as a poor dining experience – even if they had enjoyed eating there before. Eighty-three per cent of diners said they would either probably not / or definitely not go back to a restaurant or takeaway they discovered had a low rating even if they had enjoyed eating there before. Over a third (37%) said they would definitely not go back.


The display of food hygiene ratings is not mandatory in England*and fewer than one in five of people here (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 comments: “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 Bob raising and maintaining food hygiene standards should be a key focus for any food business.


He concludes: “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.”


Top tips for food outlets to improve and secure food hygiene ratings:

  1. Take pride in what you do - smart clean staff and well maintained and clean premises can only give a good first impression.
  2. Education is key – ensure management and staff are trained to a level that ensures they may carry out their work with competence and confidence. Level 2 food hygiene is considered the standard level of training for most food handlers, with managers/supervisors benefitting from completing Level 3 managing food hygiene.
  3. Ensure that all foods prepared and served are covered by a HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point). This appears a bit of a mouthful and the formal terminology can cause some people to shy away from it. In simple terms, a HACCP is a formal process specifies the controls necessary to keep the food safe along its entire journey from the moment of purchase, all the way to the point of sale.
  4. Follow food safety rules to control the risk of cross-contamination. Segregate raw and ready to eat foods during storage and provide separate raw and ready to eat food preparation surfaces and equipment.
  5. Monitor and maintain the chain of temperature control. Check and record your storage, cooking and display temperatures to demonstrate that all is under control.
  6. Ensure your staff have the confidence to implement and record corrective actions when controls have not been achieved. This may mean rejecting food deliveries that do not meet temperature requirements, or food not achieving correct cooking temperatures.
  7. Keep all records up to date, logically filed and readily accessible – lost or poorly kept records do not give a good impression for confidence in management, and can be one of the drivers of a low food hygiene rating.
  8. Introduce a proactive pest control contract with a competent contractor. Why wait for problems to develop when you can receive advice on proofing and general housekeeping arrangements, and have measures already in place to deal with ‘lone intruders’ before they take hold.
  9. Consider going digital and getting the edge – installing a digital temperature monitoring system provides a reliable extra pair of hands for a fraction of the cost so your team can focus on preparing and serving safe food to your customers.
  10. Plan ahead and invest in your businesses’ reputation. Seek professional advice from one of Navitas’ qualified Environmental Health Practitioners who can advise on, and verify, the effectiveness of your food and safety procedures.

Survey conducted by One Poll of 2,000 adults 18+ in the UK who have eaten in a restaurant or bought a takeaway or pre-packed sandwich in the last month (February 2019).


* Food businesses in Wales and Northern Ireland must display their Food Hygiene Rating at their premises.

About Us

Navitas Group is a single destination to help food businesses meet all their food safety requirements. It offers digital food safety management, online safety training, food and health and safety compliance monitoring, and consulting by qualified Environmental Health practitioners to make handling food safety as streamlined, efficient and easy as possible.


Combining 30 years of recognised industry experience and expertise with the latest innovative, leading-edge technology, Navitas products and services provide reassurance to around 4,500 food businesses in the UK and overseas.


The Navitas Group is based in Anstey, Leicestershire and employs 100 people.


Stephanie Dobson


Phone: 07831 623 533