Until it becomes mandatory for all UK restaurants to publicly display their food hygiene ratings, those with little regard for the health and welfare of their customers will continue to get away with unacceptable behaviour. Once again, an extensive study (this time carried out by ITV News) has highlighted the extent of the problem in London alone. Across the capital, the ITV investigation found that no less than 358 operational food businesses had scored ZERO food hygiene ratings. Experts insist that anything lower than three stars should be considered a potential health hazard.
Upon receiving a rating of zero stars, the business has two weeks to appeal the decision and request an investigation. Otherwise, they are usually allowed to stay open, just as long as they indicate their intent to make the necessary improvements.
All the while, customers continue to eat their potentially dangerous products, completely unaware of the danger they are putting themselves in. Only when the establishment is considered to be a genuine and immediate threat to public health is it closed down on the spot, which is comparatively rare.
According to the latest roundup of findings, food businesses across Tower Hamlets, Ealing and Camden were found to be the worst in the city. 17 restaurants in Tower Hamlets, 19 in Ealing and 22 in Camden received the lowest possible zero-star rating and were handed orders to make immediate improvements, of face being shut down.
In terms of takeaway outlets, the worst areas in London were found to be Brent with 11 zero ratings, Newham with 12 zero ratings and Croydon with a full 15 zero-star ratings.
At the other end of the scale, Havering proved to be one of the safest places to eat in London, having come out with no zero-star ratings for any of its takeaways, restaurants or pubs.
Food hygiene ratings are assessed in accordance with how hygienically or otherwise the food is stored, handled, cooked, re-heated and prepared in general, along with the cleanliness of the building and the controls in place to monitor and manage food hygiene. While it is a legal requirement for food hygiene ratings to be displayed prominently in Wales, the same isn’t the case across the rest of the UK.
Once again therefore, health groups are pleading with the public to be proactive by asking to see food hygiene ratings, before deciding which businesses to do business with.