Worst places for food hygiene in the UK revealed

Emma Woollacott
Map showing the best and worst areas for food hygiene.
Map showing the best and worst areas for food hygiene.

We all like a restaurant meal or a takeaway occasionally, and we tend to assume that the food's safe to eat - but that isn't always the case.

Just last month, for example, we reported on the McDonald's branch where a mum found a mealworm in her son's chips.

The good news is that 63% of UK food businesses have a top hygiene rating of 5, with another 21% being rated 4. Only 3% needed improvement with a rating of 2, and fewer than 1% needed urgent improvements with a rating of 0.

And it's worth pointing out that some of these 0 ratings could be caused by errors in paperwork.

But it might surprise you to know that food hygiene varies significantly around the country. Online health service DrEd.com has evaluated hygiene rating data from food.gov.uk to look at the safest places to eat out - and where you may be taking your life in your hands.

London as a whole represented the densest cluster of 0 and 1-rated businesses - and one area in particular stood out.

"Beware if you're in the Plaistow area," says a spokeswoman. "This borough was the worst ranked in London for sanitary food conditions."

Birmingham also had a cluster of businesses that needed urgent improvements, along with Merseyside, Manchester and Leeds.

The English area with the highest average is Darlington, which has a rating of 4.8, while the lowest is Walsall, with a rating of 3.5.

Only 42% of takeaways and sandwich shops got a score of 5, with most getting 3 or 4. Around a quarter of hotels, bed & breakfasts, and guest houses received a rating of 4, as did one in five restaurants, cafes, and canteens.

"Although some businesses do have poor food hygiene, a lot of food-related businesses have high standards of cleanliness. A large portion of food-related businesses in the UK still scored a 4 or higher," concludes the report.

"Yet there are issues that can't be overlooked. For example, 4% of restaurants, cafes, and canteens received a rating of 1. While it may not seem like a big deal, this small percentage can lead the way for cross-contamination and food-borne illnesses."