/ Food & Drink, Health

Do your local restaurants meet food hygiene requirements?

food hygiene standards

Are you confident about the hygiene checks that take place in your local restaurants? We found that compliance with food hygiene rules can vary hugely, depending on where you live.

It’s easy to take for granted that hygiene checks take place in restaurants, cafés and shops selling food.

But with local authority resourcing under pressure, we looked at the data they submit to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on how they’re ensuring food businesses are meeting hygiene standards. Then we ranked them.

There was a lot of variation – as you can see in the local authority food hygiene enforcement map we created. For example, in 20 local authority areas, the chances of buying from a food business that isn’t meeting hygiene requirements was as high as one in three. In the lowest-rated ​local ​authority area – Hyndburn – this rose to nearly two in every three outlets.

Food hygiene enforcement shouldn’t be fudged

We’ve carried out this research now because there are a lot of challenges facing food law enforcement. So we want the FSA and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) to make sure there is a more robust system in place.

Food production and supply chains can be very complex, and when we leave the EU, we’ll also need to take on checks that are currently overseen by the European Commission, including more checks on imports.

The FSA and FSS are reviewing the system and starting to come up with proposals. This includes some positive steps, such as strengthening the checks before businesses can start to trade (the current registration system is more of a paper exercise).

They’re also making greater use of data to assess how companies are complying and focusing on third-party checks that businesses would pay for.

How to approach hygiene inspections

Our research shows that some local authorities are clearly struggling to keep on top of inspections and drive compliance. But overall, around 87% of businesses are complying.

There needs to be great caution about moving away from an independent system. Companies should be doing their own checks if they care about food safety, but that shouldn’t mean that they aren’t overseen by independent public authorities. There is a lot of specialism and expertise across the country. There is also a mix of businesses of varying complexity.

A much more strategic approach is therefore needed. This should include a greater role for the FSA and FSS in policing more complex and higher risk businesses, as well as sharing of expertise and resources at regional level.

How important do you think hygiene checks are? How would you feel if companies employed by businesses were doing these checks in place of local authorities? Would you have confidence in the hygiene rating (‘score on the door’) if they were?


I have just looked at the hygiene map from the link above, and it is extremely confusing.

Reading down the left hand side for an explanation, is the map rating the eating establishments or the Local Authorities?

‘Search The Map’ also doesn’t seem to work.


Wouldn’t encourage anyone to visit Scotland, would it? One thing’s interesting: in North Wales all the places have to have their scores on the window or door, and there are an extremely high number of eating places. Possibly competition or having to show the scores, but one factor seems to have produced very good ratings.


It is a legal requirement in Wales to show the ratings on the frontage of the establishment. In England the absence of a displayed rating tells me all I need to know.


It’s a legal requirement.


To clarify, Ian, is it a legal requirement in England to show the food hygiene ratings on the frontage? I did not think it was mandatory yet.


Thats a very interesting map ,I agree with Ian looks very bad in Scotland but something very interesting turned up . In the past ,in Scotland Glasgow was one of the worst areas for hygiene , Alsatians found in Indian restaurants freezers, dead fish kept in pails in back courts by Chinese restaurants , kitchens where you would slide all over the place with ingrained grease, snails in the food storage basement , diarrhea after each Indian meal and so on .Big outcry so hard-nosed Glasgow Environmental health department Officers shut down many restaurants-hot lines set up , big fines it took several years but it worked . Notice Glasgow/Edinburgh now at the top end BUT the converse has happened in London ,its at the bottom end , I dont remember getting sick from cod+chips in Tooting.


Sad to say I couldn’t find a regular fish & chip shop in Tooting, Duncan, the last time I was there three years ago. There was one near Tooting Bec Underground station which my mother-in-law patronised but the f&c was a sideline to a range of other comestibles.


I am going back many decades John ,there used to be plenty , I was in one near Tooting Broadway in Garratt Lane when I worked there , I still have my plastic library card when there was library in Tooting Broadway opposite the tube station , stayed in Franciscan Road (bottom end ) Sat in Tooting Bec park at the top end eating my F+C,s .


I got to know the area quite well over a number of years. I think the public library is still there – a charming Edwardian building – but it has been ‘modernised’ with an open-plan layout. My wife went to the big school in Franciscan Road – now a ‘professional development centre’ for the borough’s teaching staff. Everywhere changes.


We do share something John, apart from the one of the few people able to make me laugh we share nostalgia , my problem is I have a photographic memory its like a picture into the firmware of my brain , I remember people ,places, times, the full atmosphere of the time , its handy when I am travelling,I remember all the roads I have covered in my life ,and yes I remember the school further up Franciscan road .


Yes, but unfortunately even nostalgia’s not quite the same as it used to be.


When we eat out we should take it for granted that good hygiene and the correct storage and handling of food is observed. When premises are clearly in default they should be closed as a penalty for a fixed period – ostensibly to fix problems and have independent retraining that they pay for.

Funding routine inspections should not come out of our council tax but be self funding. Require all restaurants, cafes and takeaways to be licensed and pay an annual fee to support a proper inspection system.

I sense that at present the penalties are a quite inadequate deterrent.


While not directly on topic it is still food+drink related and related to this time of the year and (hopefully ) bring a smile (to some ) . That esteemed religious organisation the Good Benedictine Monks of Devon who sell that well known “tonic ” wine buckfast , well known in some poorer parts of the UK , have cracked down under copyright law (cracked being the operative word here ) on a company selling Easter eggs -boxed for £10 .All quite innocent you might think until you read the writing on the box–buckfast -tonic wine —-Easter eggs – I know I have a non-standard sense of humour but the visions flashing before my eyes of a “bobby ” looking at somebody sprawled in a drunken state on the ground -saying -now then what going on here ? and the drunk replying – honest guv I was only eating Easter eggs came to mind .Inside was a Nestle chocolate Easter egg , a buckfast pen -buckfast lighter and a—buckfast magnet ?? (probably for lifting yourself off the ground ) The company (Irish ) has had inquiries from Scotland -England-Australia -and the USA . I broke down several times in laughter as I posted this as I conjured up many situations that could fill a joke book.