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Which? reveals food hygiene lottery

The places with lowest hygiene ratings uncovered


Which? analysis of food hygiene ratings reveals the postcodes that tend to have the worst eateries, and the brands with too many branches you’d want to avoid.

When we analysed food hygiene ratings in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 2011 onwards, we found wide variations in scores between different postcodes. 

Food outlets are rated for hygiene on a six point scale – zero being the worst and five the best. A score of three is ‘generally satisfactory’.

The DA7 postcode in Bexley averaged a score of just 2.6 – almost half the premises inspected in this area had a score of two or less. By contrast, Birmingham B35 topped the table with a near-perfect 4.9.

Which? members can access the full article in the magazine archive. If you’re not a member, you can access our archive plus all our online reviews if you sign up for a trial.

Food hygiene ratings – high street chains

The average scores for big high street brands were typically three or above – that is generally satisfactory or better. Some major chains had no poor scores recorded at all.

But some brands had a greater proportion of outlets with poor scores – zero, one or two – than others. For instance, convenience stores including Best One, Costcutter, Premier and Londis had 20% or more branches rated as less than three. 

More than 10% of branches of La Tasca and Little Chef had low ratings.

What the food outlets said

The owners of these food outlets generally told us they had training and controls in place to ensure high standards. 

Some, such as Premier, Costcutter, Bestway (Best In and Best One), Nisa, Londis, Perfect Pizza and Spar, said their stores were either franchised or independently run. 

La Tasca said it had new management since 2011 and both it and Londis said it had improved in recent times. Little Chef said it was working to improve lower rated reaturants.

Food hygiene and food poisoning

When we asked the public about food hygiene scores, three quarters said they wouldn’t eat somewhere rated zero, one or two. 

Maybe because our research also revealed that in the last two years as many as 17 million people say they got food poisoning as a result of eating out or takeaway food.

If you think you’ve had food poisoning as a result of eating out, find out your rights and how to get your money back.

What Which? wants

It’s not always easy to tell what hygiene rating a food outlet has – they don’t have to display their rating. 

Like 95% of you, we believe it should be mandatory for the score to be displayed clearly. 

You can read more about our campaigning work on everything from hygiene scores, to energy and personal finance.

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