Almost one in five restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets in South Tyneside are ‘generally satisfactory” - or worse, according to new figures.
Of the 1,100 businesses in the borough, 194 have a Food Hygiene Ratings three of less - just over 17%.
A ‘good’ score is now a minimum benchmark
The figures came in a survey which showed that almost half of customers say they would walk away from the front doors of a food outlet if they scored less than four when businesses in England are legally required to display their food hygiene ratings.
A new report by NFU Mutual has assessed customer attitudes, public support for new legislation and its potential impact.
It reveals that 44% of people would turn away from even their favourite place to eat if a food hygiene rating of less than four out of five - meaning “good” -was on display.
A 0 rating means “urgent improvement” is necessary. A 1 rating means “major improvement” is required and a 2 rating means “improvement” is needed. A 3 rating means the premises is “generally satisfactory”.
A rating of 4 means “good” and a 5 means the establishment is rated as “very good” by inspectors.
According to the Food Standards Agency, 2,432 businesses in the North East have a rating of 3 or less, and therefore could be affected.
The ratings are correct as of the middle of January this year.
Darren Seward, hospitality 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 can no longer be seen as an aspiration but a minimum benchmark.”
Wales and Northern Ireland have already subscribed to mandatory display of food hygiene ratings schemes, with new legislation set to come into force in England by 2019, and a comparable Scottish scheme likely to follow suit.
Mandatory display means any outlet that sells food must display its score in a prominent place such as the front door or window.
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “We have a fantastic selection of establishments in South Tyneside serving a wide variety of cuisine and we’re pleased that the vast majority of these maintain high standards of hygiene.
“Almost 57 per cent of local businesses in the scheme achieve the highest rating of 5. The proportion of 0-2 rated businesses continues to reduce year-on-year and we continue to work with food establishments to improve on this even further.”