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Last updated: 04.07.22

The most unhygienic UK regions for dining out

50 million people eat out in Great Britain every year on average, across 2.4 billion dining out occasions according to research

But with over 120,000 dining establishments across the UK to choose from, how does one decide where to go? 

By location? Likely. By cuisine? Also likely. But what about by hygiene rating? We doubt it.

With this in mind, we decided to find out which UK regions are the most and, well, the least cleanly when it comes to food hygiene!

Analysing data from over 500,000 food businesses across Great Britain, we’ve ranked the 50 largest towns and cities based on their average food hygiene rating out of 5. 

We’ve also found out which regions rank above and which rank below the national average and broken down each UK region by individual districts.

Key Findings

  • The average food hygiene score in the UK is 4.65.
  • 146 local UK authorities have an average score lower than this national average, and 198 local authorities have an average score above this.
  • Waltham Forest, London, has the lowest average rating in the UK with an average score of 3.95. This is followed by other London authorities Newham, Ealing, Lambeth and Enfield.
  • Outside of London, Birmingham has the lowest average hygiene rating followed by Walsall, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Blaenau Gwent. 
  • The most food-hygienic region in the UK is Northern Ireland with an average score of 4.80, followed by the East Midlands, North East England and South West England with an average score of 4.73. The lowest-ranked region is London, with 4.40.

Sarah Baker, Chief Learning Officer, was keen to point out, “eating out really is one of life's pleasures, whether it be catching up with friends, bonding with family, or trying new cuisine. Something that people often overlook though, when choosing a restaurant is its food hygiene rating. This is a criterion set by the Food Standards Agency that ensures fairness across the board because all businesses are inspected on the same areas of food safety. At the end of the day, undercooked food and unclean equipment can both make you really ill, so it's something that anyone dining out should be aware of. Unfortunately, it's not mandatory to display food hygiene ratings in England or Scotland so it's always a good idea to check on the Food Standards Agency before you go - just as you'd be likely to look at reviews on Tripadvisor or Google!

"And as consumers become savvier on this, it's important for any businesses working with food to establish guidelines and keep these up to date. Not only will they be ensuring the safety of consumers but organisations with a good reputation in food hygiene are more likely to stand apart from their competitors who do not offer the same standards, which is another incentive for businesses to get the best rating possible!"

So, if you want to see how your town fared, check out the ranking below of the 50 most significant UK towns…

 

Now, to break things down further, we’ve delved into each region in the UK to find out how each stacks up against the National average and how their local districts stack up against one another!

 

London

 

Key Findings

  • London is the least hygienic region in the UK when it comes to food, with its score of 4.40 being lower than both the national average and all other regions in Britain. 

  • Waltham Forest, London, has the lowest average rating of any individual district in the UK with an average score of 3.95. This is followed by other London authorities Newham, Ealing, Lambeth, Enfield and Camden.

  • In London specifically, Kensington and Chelsea has the highest average hygiene rating with a score of 4.82.

  • Of the 32 individual district scores in the region, 91% ranked below the national average with only Greenwich, City of London Corporation and Kensington and Chelsea scoring 4.65 or above.

 

East of England

 

Key Findings

  • Broadland has the highest average hygiene rating in the East of England with a score of 4.88, followed by Stevenage and Mid Suffolk tied with 4.84.

  • On the other hand, Norwich City has the lowest average hygiene rating in the East of England with a score of 4.40.

  • Out of the 50 largest cities and towns in the United Kingdom, Eastern England city, Ipswich, has the highest average food hygiene rating, with an impressive score of 4.92. 

  • Looking at the 34 individual district scores in the region too, 59% rank below the national average hygiene rating of 4.65. 

 

East Midlands

 

Key Findings

  • In the East Midlands, Bassetlaw has the highest average hygiene rating with a score of 4.92. The district also has the second highest average hygiene rating in out of all districts in the United Kingdom, with its score being behind only Hull and Goole Port’s 5.00. 

  • Neighbouring city Leicester had the lowest score in the region, with its score of 4.38. The city also scored 47th out of the 50 most hygienic largest cities and towns in the United Kingdom. 

  • On the other hand, East Midlands’ Nottingham City has the fourth-highest average food hygiene rating of the UK’s 50 largest cities and towns, with a score of 4.80 putting it joint with Exeter City and Colchester. 


North East England

Key Findings

  • North East England is the most hygienic region in the North with an average score of 4.73 compared to 4.61 in Yorkshire and the Humber and 4.52 in North West England.

  • In the entire UK, the region is the joint-second most hygienic (with East Midlands and South West England) with an average score of 4.73 and ranking only below Northern Ireland’s average score of 4.80.

  • Stockton on Tees has the highest average hygiene rating in the region with a score of 4.90, followed by Hartlepool, Darlington and Redcar and Cleveland.

  • On the other hand, South Tyneside has the lowest average hygiene rating in North East England with a score of 4.54, followed by Middlesbrough and Durham with a joint average of 4.57.

 

North West England

Key Findings

  • Sefton has the highest average hygiene rating in North West England with a score of 4.78, followed by Warrington with 4.72 and Bury with 4.71.

  • On the other hand, Bolton has the lowest average hygiene rating in the region with a score of 4.24. 

  • The city also had the second-lowest average food hygiene rating of the 50 largest cities and towns in the United Kingdom, being second only Birmingham.

 

South East England

Key Findings

  • In the South East of England, the most hygienic district is Wokingham with a national average score of 4.84 and Slough is the least hygienic in the region with an average score of 4.37.

  • With the national average being 4.65, South East England ranks just slightly below this with an average region score of 4.67.

  • Of the 16 individual districts within the region, only 5 did not score the national average of 4.65 or above, with these being Slough, Reading, Portsmouth, Buckinghamshire and the Isle of Wight.

 

South West England

Key Findings

  • Dorset is the most hygienic district in the region with an average score of 4.92 and Bath and North East Somerset is the least hygienic when it comes to food with its score of 4.60 - which is only just below the national average of 4.65.

  • In the entire UK, the region as a whole is the second most hygienic (joint with East Midlands and South West England) with an average score of 4.73 and ranking only below Northern Ireland’s average score of 4.80.

  • Out of the 50 largest cities and towns in the United Kingdom, Gloucester city has the second-highest average food hygiene rating, with an impressive score of 4.84 that was second to only Ipswich. 

 

West Midlands

Key Findings

  • Solihull has the highest average hygiene rating in the West Midlands with a score of 4.65, which is the national average score.

  • On the other hand, Birmingham has the lowest average hygiene rating in the East of England with a score of 4.18.

  • What’s more, out of the 50 largest cities and towns in the United Kingdom, Birmingham has the lowest average food hygiene rating, with a score of 4.18. 

  • Outside of London, Birmingham has the lowest average hygiene rating of any district followed by fellow West Midlands city, Walsall.

 

Yorkshire and the Humber

Key Findings

  • Kirklees has the lowest average hygiene rating in Yorkshire and the Humber with a score of 4.45.

  • North East Lincolnshire has the highest average hygiene rating in Yorkshire and the Humber top with 4.81.

  • With the national average being 4.65, Yorkshire and the Humber ranks just slightly below this with an average region score of 4.61.

  • Of the individual district scores in the region, 57% ranked below the national average with only York, East Riding of Yorkshire, Wakefield, Barnsley, Rotherham and North East Lincolnshire scoring 4.65 or above.

  • Yorkshire and the Humber ranked mid-level in hygiene when it comes to the North, with North East England being the most hygienic with an average score of 4.73 and North West England the least with 4.52.

 

Northern Ireland

Key Findings

  • Newry, Mourne and Down has the highest average hygiene rating in Northern Ireland with a score of 4.83.

  • On the other hand, Antrim and Newtownabbey has the lowest average hygiene rating in the region with 4.79.

  • Northern Ireland is the most food-hygienic region in all of the United Kingdom, with an average score of 4.80.

  • Breaking this down further, of the individual district scores in the region, 100% impressively ranked above the United Kingdom’s 4.65 national average.

 

Wales

Key Findings

  • In Wales, Rhondda Cynon Taf in the southeast of the country is the least hygienic district with a score of 4.22.

  • On the other hand, the most hygienic districts are Wrexham and Gwynedd with a joint score of 4.86.

  • With the national average being 4.65, Wales ranks just slightly below this with an average region score of 4.56.

  • Of all of the individual districts in the country, 67% rank below the average national score with only Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Conwy, Flintshire, Anglesey, Wrexham and Gwynedd.

If you’d like to learn more about food health and safety, we have a wide range of courses and resources on our website to help. From HACCP to food allergies, Virtual College can really save your bacon when it comes to food hygiene.

 

Methodology

Data used in this study has been sourced from the Food Standards Agency. A full data set can be provided upon request.

Data was not available for Scotland.


 

 

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