The towns and cities across the South East that scored highest and lowest for their food hygiene ratings have been revealed.
Online training provider High Speed Training says it analysed Food Standards Agency (FSA) data for more than 230,000 food businesses across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, found that in the South East, the average food hygiene rating across all food establishments was 4.60 from more than 28,000 premises, which places the region fourth in the national rankings.
A similar report run in 2019 calculated the South East’s score at 4.47, showing that food hygiene standards have improved across the region.
The top spot in the South East went to Hastings, with an impressive average score of 4.83 from 431 premises, placing them joint third in the national rankings for towns and cities.
Hastings also held the top spot in the 2019 report, and has increased its rating by 0.01.
Eilidh Paton, owner of Alba Food Safety Consultancy and chartered environmental health officer, said: “Food Hygiene inspections and ratings are extremely important. From a legal perspective, they ensure businesses are compliant, but mostly, they are designed to help businesses provide safer food.
“It also gives consumers the assurance that businesses are safe to eat in as they are regularly inspected by competent officers.
“These results certainly fit with my experience. Takeaways, on average, tend to have a lower rating for a large number of reasons, but mainly it is down to a much larger number of orders per day than say, a B&B would. It’s fast food, so the customer expects to get it quickly, leaving less time for staff to focus on cleaning and paperwork.
“Customers should be aware of Food Hygiene ratings, so they can spend their money in businesses that invest in their safety. They should be easier to access but I believe this could only be achieved by making it mandatory for businesses to display their ratings.”
Richard Anderson, head of learning development at High Speed Training, added: “One of the biggest responsibilities as a food establishment is ensuring that food safety and hygiene practices are thorough and up to date. This is why it’s so important to look at the rating accredited by the FHRS as it’s a direct reflection of how that establishment operates and the importance it places on its livelihood.
“As our analysis shows, on a whole, ratings are fairly high across the whole of the UK with every single region in the UK improving their average food hygiene score from 2019. However, for the proportion of establishments with a low hygiene rating, it can be extremely off-putting for customers and ultimately have a significant impact on your reputation and profitability as a business.
“There’s definitely more some establishments can do to improve their hygiene rating, firstly ensuring that all relevant staff have up to date food hygiene training and are aware of their specific responsibilities. It’s then a case of implementing good practices every day to stay on top of hygiene standards.
“And for those customers turning a blind eye when it comes to checking a hygiene rating, we would definitely urge you not to as ignorance isn’t always bliss! We would always recommend checking hygiene ratings before eating at an establishment so you can make an informed call as to whether you eat there.”