Almost 15,000 food retailers warned to get ready for new food hygiene legislation or risk losing nearly half of customers

  • Research assesses the potential impact of legislation to display food hygiene ratings
  • 44% of customers would turn away at the door if faced with a rating of 3 out of 5 or less
  • 14,655 food retail stores in England could be affected

Almost half (44%) of customers could physically turn away from the front doors of almost 15,000 retailers when food businesses in England are legally required to display their food hygiene ratings, according to research by commercial insurer NFU Mutual.

The NFU Mutual Food Hygiene Ratings Report, published today, reveals that 44% of people would turn away from even their favourite places to buy food and try somewhere else instead, if a food hygiene rating of less than four out of five was on display1.

Commenting on the report, Frank Woods, retail sector specialist at NFU Mutual, said: ?Our report shows that when it comes to food safety customers have naturally high standards and that a ?good? score should no longer be seen as an aspiration but a minimum benchmark.

?It?s fantastic to see that over 81% of all food retail outlets in England 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 could be a game changer for those businesses struggling to reach the top grades. In advance of legislation changes, all retail 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 4 or 5 for the day an inspector calls. Our free Food Hygiene Ratings Report also contains advice to help businesses achieve a good rating.?

The report, which assesses consumer attitudes, public support for new legislation and its potential impact, shows that in total over 65,000 – almost one in seven2 – relevant businesses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland2 have a food hygiene rating of three (generally satisfactory) or below ? with almost 15,000 of these being retail businesses and supermarkets in England. Over 81% of all English retail businesses have a hygiene rating of 4 (good) or 5 (very good). A different scheme is used in Scotland2.

Wales and Northern Ireland have already subscribed to mandatory display of food hygiene ratings schemes3, with new legislation set to come into force in England by 20194, and a comparable Scottish scheme likely to follow suit4. Mandatory display means any outlet that serves or sells food must display its score in a prominent place such as the front door or window.

Running in Wales since 2013, the mandatory ratings display scheme has been hailed by its Deputy Health Minister as a big success story, helping to drive up industry standards ? so much so that the number of businesses with the highest rating of 5, ?very good?, has risen to 60.8% in November 2016 from 45% prior to the legislation coming into force.5

The NFU Mutual report found that a law for compulsory display of rating stickers in England and Scotland has gained the support of consumers, with 88% in favour and 66% strongly so.

To request a free PDF copy of the full report, visit

For more information and advice on a range of NFU Mutual?s retail and hospitality services, find your local Agent by visiting


Type of retail food outlet in EnglandRetail businesses with a rating of three or belowTotal number of retail businessesPercentage of retail businesses with a rating of 3 or below
Retail other140386759820.77%
Retail supermarket/ hypermarket617102576.02%
Retail total146557785518.82%


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