Rating the Hygiene Standards of UK Food Businesses: The Latest Statistics

Food hygiene is an important issue in the UK.

Poor food hygiene can lead to the spread of foodborne illness, which can cause serious health problems.

In fact, a recent scientific study by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) estimates that around 2.4 million cases of foodborne illness occur every year in the UK (source).

This represents a significant burden on both public health and the economy and costs the UK around £9.1 billion per year (source).

To help address this problem, the UK has implemented the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, which is managed by the FSA and local authorities. 

The scheme aims to inform consumers about the hygiene standards of food businesses and encourage those businesses to improve their practices. 

Under the scheme, food businesses are inspected by local authorities and assigned a rating based on their compliance with food safety regulations. 

These ratings are often displayed prominently at the business's premises, allowing consumers to make informed choices about where to eat or purchase food.  They are also available here on Food Owland the Food Standards Agency website.

While these ratings are helpful in evaluating the performance of individual businesses, I thought it would be interesting to look at the latest food hygiene ratings statistics for local and regional areas in the UK. Before we do, here are some overall statistics for the UK:

Please note that the data in this article was obtained from the Food Standards Agency website and is updated on a nightly basis. This ensures that the information is as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

Latest Food Hygiene Rating Statistics (July 2024)

  • Out of 541,277 businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, 363,621 businesses have achieved the highest possible rating of 5 (67.18%).
  • A total of 106,421 businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have achieved a perfect hygiene score (19.66%). A business with a perfect hygiene score was awarded a rating of 'five' and zero points on their last inspection. This means inspectors could not find any shortcomings in terms of food hygiene.
  • There are currently a total of 835 zero-rated businesses (0.15%) and 6,132 one-rated businesses (1.13%) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • In Scotland, there are currently 56,402 food-based businesses. Out of those, 41,581 have a rating of 'Pass' (73.72%) and 3,221 have a rating of 'Improvement Required' (5.71%). The remaining businesses are 'excempt'.

Those are some interesting numbers, but let's delve into some more interesting statistics and look at where the best and the worst regions are for food hygiene ratings in the UK.

Eye-Opening Food Hygiene Statistics for July 2024

These statistics provide a snapshot of the state of food hygiene in the UK today.  They highlight both the successes and the challenges that the country faces in ensuring that the food we eat is free from contamination and is safe to consume.

Country Level Statistics

Here's the latest food hygiene rating statistics for each country within the UK.

  • Wales is currently the worst performing country out of England, Wales and Northern Ireland for food hygiene ratings. Wales currently has the greatest percentage of zero and one-rated food establishments. There are a total of 33,327 food-based businesses in Wales and 482 of those have a rating of 'zero' or 'one' (1.45%).
  • The best performing country out of England, Wales and Northern Ireland for food hygiene ratings is Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland currently has the greatest percentage of five-rated food establishments. There are a total of 16,853 food-based businesses in Northern Ireland and 12,597 of those have a rating of 'five' (74.75%).

Here's a table showing the percentage of 5-rated businesses and the percentage of 0 and 1-rated businesses for each country:

Country5-Rated Businesses (%)0 and 1-Rated Businesses (%)
Northern Ireland74.75% (12,597)0.44% (74)
England66.97% (328,904)1.31% (6,411)
Wales66.37% (22,120)1.45% (482)

Regional Level Statistics

Next we dive into the latest food hygiene rating statistics for each region in the UK.  These statistics offer a high-level view of the state of food hygiene in each region.

Please note it's worth noting that the Food Standards Agency considers Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland to be both countries and regions. This is why you will see them listed in both the country and region sections of this article.

  • London is currently the worst performing region out of England, Wales and Northern Ireland for food hygiene ratings. London currently has the greatest percentage of zero and one-rated food establishments. There are a total of 79,108 food-based businesses in London and 304 of those are rated 'zero' or 'one' (2.26%). 
  • The best performing region out of England, Wales and Northern Ireland for food hygiene ratings is Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland currently has the greatest percentage of five-rated food establishments. There are a total of 16,853 food-based businesses in Northern Ireland and 12,597 of those have a rating of 'five' (74.75%).

Here's a table showing the percentage of 5-rated businesses and the percentage of 0 and 1-rated businesses for each region in England, Wales and Northern Ireland::

Region5-Rated Businesses (%)0 and 1-Rated Businesses (%)
Northern Ireland74.75% (12,597)0.44% (74)
East Midlands73.33% (30,777)0.85% (358)
South East71.68% (56,167)0.81% (631)
North East71.41% (16,073)0.69% (156)
East Counties70.52% (37,500)0.91% (485)
South West70.19% (38,115)0.77% (417)
Yorkshire and Humberside68.26% (32,710)1.09% (522)
Wales66.37% (22,120)1.45% (482)
North West65.24% (41,626)1.71% (1,088)
West Midlands60.14% (30,042)1.94% (968)
London58.01% (45,894)2.26% (1,786)

Local Authority Level Statistics (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)

In this section, we'll look at the best and worst performing local authorities for food hygiene ratings in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • The worst performing local authority out of England, Wales and Northern Ireland for food hygiene ratings is Waltham Forest.
  • Waltham Forest currently has the greatest percentage of zero and one-rated food establishments.There are a total of 2,002 food-based businesses in Waltham Forest and 230 of those are rated 'zero' or 'one' (11.49%).

  • The best performing local authority out of England, Wales and Northern Ireland for food hygiene ratings is River Tees.

River Tees currently has the greatest percentage of five-rated food establishments. There are a total of 5 food-based businesses in River Tees and 5 of those have a rating of 'five' (100.00%).

Worst performing local authorities for food hygyiene ratings

Here's a table displaying the bottom 20 local authorities for food hygiene ratings in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  This highlights the local authorities where improvement is required to catch-up with the local authorities that perform the best in the UK.

Local Authority0 and 1-Rated Businesses (%)
Waltham Forest11.49% (230)
Pendle5.98% (49)
Barking and Dagenham5.80% (79)
Blaenau Gwent5.08% (32)
Birmingham4.68% (478)
Ealing4.36% (137)
Hillingdon4.28% (97)
Torbay4.24% (62)
Salford3.93% (76)
Woking3.80% (31)
Blackburn3.79% (46)
Wigan3.78% (95)
Newham3.75% (107)
Hull City3.63% (79)
Merthyr Tydfil3.44% (19)
Enfield3.44% (84)
Camden3.34% (133)
Redbridge3.11% (61)
Liverpool3.09% (127)
Rochdale2.90% (52)

Best performing local authorities for food hygyiene ratings

Here's a table displaying the top 20 local authorities for food hygiene ratings in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  This highlights their impressive efforts in maintaining high standards in the UK food industry.

Local Authority5-Rated Businesses (%)
River Tees100.00% (5)
Wrexham91.69% (1015)
Thanet91.33% (1306)
Ipswich88.65% (953)
Forest of Dean87.45% (634)
Stockton On Tees87.42% (1293)
South Derbyshire87.35% (677)
Bassetlaw87.32% (895)
Rossendale86.82% (593)
North Kesteven86.34% (822)
Castle Point86.34% (436)
Redcar and Cleveland86.15% (989)
Boston86.05% (512)
Lincoln City85.50% (896)
Hartlepool85.33% (663)
Cotswold84.84% (856)
Anglesey84.59% (637)
Chichester83.87% (1165)
Wokingham83.80% (864)
West Oxfordshire83.73% (911)

Scottish Local Authority Level Statistics

Finally, we'll look at the best and worst performing local authorities for food hygiene ratings in Scotland.

  • The worst performing local authority in Scotland for food hygiene ratings is Aberdeen City.
  • Aberdeen City currently has the greatest percentage of food establishments with 'Improvement Required'. There are a total of 2,222 food-based businesses in Aberdeen City and 337 of those are rated as 'Improvement Required' (15.17%).

  • The best performing local authority in Scotland for food hygiene ratings is North Lanarkshire.

North Lanarkshire currently has the greatest percentage of pass-rated food establishments. There are a total of 2659 food-based businesses in North Lanarkshire and 2511 of those have a rating of 'pass' (94.43%).

Worst performing Scottish local authorities for food hygyiene ratings

Here's a table displaying the bottom 20 local authorities for food hygiene ratings in Scotland.  This highlights the local authorities where improvement is required to catch-up with the local authorities that perform the best in Scotland.

Local Authority'Improvement Required' Businesses (%)
Aberdeen City15.17% (337)
Shetland Islands13.88% (39)
South Lanarkshire10.38% (248)
Inverclyde8.97% (55)
Glasgow City8.68% (550)
Edinburgh (City of)8.08% (399)
Clackmannanshire8.05% (43)
Highland7.97% (431)
Dundee City7.20% (103)
Midlothian6.99% (48)
Aberdeenshire5.97% (150)
North Ayrshire4.96% (67)
West Dunbartonshire4.70% (35)
Angus4.69% (45)
Stirling4.45% (59)
Scottish Borders3.74% (63)
East Lothian3.68% (32)
North Lanarkshire3.54% (94)
East Ayrshire3.40% (38)
Argyll and Bute3.22% (41)

Best performing Scottish local authorities for food hygyiene ratings

Here's a table displaying the top 20 local authorities for food hygiene ratings in Scotland.  This highlights their impressive efforts in maintaining high standards in the Scottish food industry.

Local Authority'Pass' Businesses (%)
North Lanarkshire94.43% (2,511)
East Lothian93.44% (812)
East Renfrewshire91.75% (567)
South Ayrshire87.42% (952)
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles)87.41% (472)
Renfrewshire87.07% (1,293)
Perth and Kinross86.69% (1,257)
East Dunbartonshire86.55% (560)
Falkirk86.02% (1,015)
Angus85.83% (824)
North Ayrshire85.57% (1,156)
Inverclyde85.48% (524)
Dundee City84.84% (1,214)
Edinburgh (City of)83.18% (4,106)
Clackmannanshire81.84% (437)
Fife81.69% (3,872)
Stirling81.15% (1,076)
Midlothian80.93% (556)
West Dunbartonshire79.60% (593)
West Lothian78.47% (864)

Wrapping Up

Overall, the UK's Food Standards Agency has a strong food hygiene rating scheme in place to protect the public's health.  However, as these statistics show, there is still room for improvement in certain areas of the country. 

It is important for both consumers and food businesses to be aware of these ratings and for businesses in particular to take steps to ensure that food is safe for consumption.

Whether through careful food handling practices or by choosing to eat only at establishments with high ratings, we can all play a role in improving food hygiene in the UK. 

This helps to protect public health by reducing the spread of foodborne illness which, otherwise, can cause serious health problems and increase pressure on the NHS and the UK economy.