Worst places for food hygiene in the UK revealed

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."

Gross discoveries in food
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Gross discoveries in food

In April last year, a couple from Preston were carving the chicken for their roast dinner, when they discovered it was green inside.

They returned it to Morrisons, which said it was green because of bile from the gall bladder, which hadn’t been removed properly. The company apologised and offered him £15 to make up for the nasty surprise.

This October, 25-year-old Hasan Ali from West Yorkshire, broke open a Sainsbury’s Mandarin orange, to discover a maggot and hundreds of eggs inside.

He Tweeted a picture to the store, and received an apology and a £10 gift card.

Last October, Eleri Adkins, a 29-year-old expectant mother, was shocked to discover a white object growing in her vinegar, which she told the press looked like it had a head.

She returned the bottle to Tesco, which said it was a harmless substance produced when the natural bacteria in the vinegar reacted with oxygen in the air. She received an apology and a bunch of flowers.

In January this year, Mollie Howe, an 11-year-old from Dagenham, discovered six inch-long nails in her takeaway chicken meal.

The owner of the takeaway said he didn't know how they had got there, as there were no nails of that type in the shop. However, he offered to replace the food.

Jason Damms, a 41-year-old warehouse manager from West Malling in Kent, was shocked when a centipede crawled out of the middle of a pile of rice in his Tesco curry ready meal last October.

He was particularly shocked, given that it had just been in the microwave.

Malika Carrington, a nine-year-old schoolgirl from Longsight in Greater Manchester, was horrified to discover a maggot in her bowl of of Asda chicken noodles.

Her mother returned it to the shop where she received a 25p refund, and a 25p goodwill payment. She wasn’t impressed.


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