Almost half of Northern Irish diners use the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme to choose where to eat out.
As we gear up for Valentine’s Day and thousands of us across Northern Ireland hurry to make those last minute dinner reservations, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in Northern Ireland is encouraging those who haven’t already checked the restaurants’ hygiene ratings, to do so ahead of 14th February.
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) is designed to help you make informed choices about where to eat out, by showing, at a glance, the standards of hygiene in food premises. With almost 1900* reported cases of food poisoning in NI in 2015, it’s really important that consumers become more discerning when it comes to the food they are eating.
Recent research conducted on behalf of the FSA, delved into the eating out habits of NI consumers. The results showed that people in NI are becoming increasingly aware of the cleanliness and hygiene of the restaurants and cafes they’re eating in and using the food hygiene as part of their decision making process. The results were as follows:
- Almost two-thirds (65%) of NI people surveyed are aware of the FHRS, of which 53% said seeing the green and black sticker influenced their decision to dine in a certain establishment.
- 40% of NI diners are using FHRS to decide where to eat out.
- Over a half of those surveyed said that cleanliness and hygiene were most important when considering where to eat out (60%).
- 84% of NI consumers look for the green and black sticker when dining out.
- Almost 100% of people said that food businesses in NI should have to display their Food Hygiene Rating for the public to see (97%).
- 9 in 10 people believe that those food businesses not displaying don’t because of poor hygiene alone.
Garreth Wilson, Head Chef of Fitzers catering at the Titanic Belfast, said,
“Without the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme how do our customers know the cleanliness and hygiene of our staff, our kitchen and ultimately our food? Using and displaying the green and black sticker shows them that we have confidence in our standards and that they should too.
“Not only does it reassure our customers, but it’s a great tool to market your business to new customers, after all, there’s no better selling point than putting our customers interests first”.
Head of Local Authority, Policy and Delivery at the FSA in NI, Michael Jackson, commented,
“Since the scheme was introduced in NI in 2011, the number of businesses voluntarily displaying their rating sticker has surprisingly remained relatively low.
“But with the statutory scheme coming into effect later this year, all businesses will have to display their rating by law and we hope that businesses will use their rating to help boost trade and give consumers the confidence to eat in their establishment. With over three-quarters of NI consumers looking for the green and black sticker, it will soon be even easier to spot.”
Ahead of the introduction of the statutory scheme, district councils will be working with businesses to help those with a rating of less than 5, improve their level of compliance and to provide new ratings where appropriate.
*Public Health Agency, 2015