More than 1,500 pub, restaurants and cafes in Sussex could be at risk losing half their customers if new food hygiene laws come into force, a leading business insurer is warning.
Displaying Food Standards Agency (FSA) ratings is currently voluntary in England, but with mounting calls to make the practice mandatory NFU Mutual is warning businesses to make sure the meet their customers’ expectations.
While a score of Three is considered ‘satisfactory’ by the FSA, research by the insurer found that 44 per cent of people would turn away if a business had a food hygiene rating of less than four out of five on display – even if it was a favourite eatery.
Commenting on the report, Darren Seward of NFU Mutual said: “Our report shows that when it comes to food safety customers have naturally high standards and that a ‘good’ score can no longer be seen as an aspiration but a minimum benchmark.
“Hopefully, any future legislation will drive excellence in food safety and it’s important that businesses don’t forget that the ratings are there to keep people safe as well as to uphold their place in a competitive market.”
There are currently around 1,574 business in East and West Sussex, which have a score of three or lower. In East Sussex there are a total of 8,309 businesses rated, of which 863 have a rating of three or lower. In West Sussex there are a total of 8,060 o which 711 have the three or lower rating.
The highest percentage of these are in Rother District, which has 999 eateries rated by the FSA. Just over 15 per cent of these (151) are rated as three or lower.
Brighton and Hove had a total of 342 eateries rated as three or lower, which comes to 11.8 per cent of its 3,058 rated eateries.
You can find a full breakdown of your local area at the bottom of this article or visit www.food.gov.uk to check the score of a particular restaurant.
The research, which was published in NFU Mutual’s latest Food Hygiene Ratings Report, also found that number jumped to 73 per cent if the business had a rating of two or lower.
According to the report nearly 90 per cent of businesses in the South East that serve or sell food have a food hygiene rating of 4 (good) or 5 (very good).
Mr Seward said: “It’s fantastic to see that nearly 90 per cent of food outlets in the South East have a rating of good or very good and the industry as a whole is taking real pride in food hygiene, but imminent compulsory displays are destined to be a game changer for those businesses struggling to reach the top grades
“In advance of legislation changes all business owners should prioritise their food hygiene plans and processes, acting now to ensure that they have considered all hygiene and paperwork aspects rated by their local authority including cleanliness, structure and confidence in management, to ensure a continued rating of four or five for the day an inspector calls.
“Our free NFU Mutual Food Hygiene Ratings Report contains advice to help businesses achieve a top rating.”
Rother – The FSA has ratings for 999 businesses in the area, of which 151 have a rating of three or below. This comes to 15.12%
Wealden – The FSA has ratings for 1,379 businesses, of which 136 have a rating of three or below. This comes to 9.86 per cent.
Worthing – The FSA has ratings for 873 businesses, of which 108 have a rating of three or below. This comes to 2.37per cent.
Brighton and Hove – The FSA has ratings for 3,058 businesses, of which 342 have a rating of three or below. This comes to 11.18 per cent
Horsham – The FSA has ratings for 1,019 businesses, of which 113 have a rating of three or below. This comes to 11.09 per cent.
Adur – The FSA has ratings for 398 businesses, of which 44 have a rating of three or below. This comes to 11.06 per cent.
Lewes – The FSA has ratings for 1,006 businesses, of which 111 have a rating of three or below. This comes to 11.03per cent.
Hastings The FSA has ratings for 827 businesses, of which 58 have a rating of three or below. This comes to 7.01 per cent
Eastbourne – The FSA has ratings for 1,040 businesses, of which 65 have a rating of three or below. This comes to 6.25 per cent.
Crawley – The FSA has ratings for 875 businesses, of which 51 have a rating of three or below. This comes to 5.83 per cent.
Mid Sussex – The FSA has ratings for 1,207 businesses, of which 67 have a rating of three or below. This comes to 5.55 per cent.
Chichester – The FSA has ratings for 1,308 businesses, of which 59 have a rating of three or below. This comes to 4.51 per cent.
Arun – The FSA has ratings for 1,123 businesses, of which 139 have a rating of three or below. This comes to 12.38 per cent.
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