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State of food hygiene in Wales revealed in new data crunching report

LOCAL authorities across Wales that have the highest and lowest food hygiene ratings have been revealed in a report by online training provider High Speed Training. The report analyzed data from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for over 218,000 food businesses in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

In the UK, the average food hygiene rating for all food establishments was 4.42 out of 5, based on nearly 14,000 premises. This places Wales in 8th position when compared to other regions in the UK. However, a previous report from High Speed Training in 2022 calculated Wales’ score to be 4.43, indicating a slight decline in food hygiene standards across the country.

Gwynedd ranked as the top local authority in Wales, with an impressive average score of 4.83 from over 1,000 premises. This would position it joint 3rd on a list of towns and cities across the UK. Bangor, within Gwynedd, secured the 3rd spot on the overall UK towns and cities list, with a score of 4.87, showing an improvement of 0.09 from 2022.

The most improved local authority in Wales from the 2022 report was Bridgend, with an average score of 4.29, representing an increase of 0.17 in their average scores. Cardiff ranked 14th in Wales, with approximately 31% of takeaways and 18% of restaurants and cafes in the city receiving a rating of three or below for their food hygiene. Swansea placed 12th in Wales, with a rating of 4.34. Approximately 36% of the city’s takeaways and 12% of restaurants and cafes scored a three or below for their food hygiene rating.

Merthyr Tydfil had the lowest average rating in Wales, with a score of 3.92, making it the lowest-ranked town or city when compared to others across the UK.

The report also highlighted that more than 25% of takeaways across Wales received a food hygiene rating of three or below. However, 85.7% of all premises scored a four or five, with 94% of hotels, B&Bs, and guest houses, and 87% of restaurants and cafes achieving a four or five rating.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) is a partnership between local authorities in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Its purpose is to provide customers with information about how well a business adheres to food hygiene and safety standards. Ratings are determined based on food handling hygiene, the physical condition of the premises, facilities, and food safety management practices. These ratings are published on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website and are typically displayed near the entrance of the premises.

In Wales and Northern Ireland, businesses are required to display their food hygiene rating, whereas in England, it is currently considered best practice.

Paul Turner, Senior Environmental Health Officer at North Yorkshire Council, emphasized the importance of considering food hygiene ratings when choosing where to eat. He highlighted that ratings offer valuable information for consumers to make informed decisions and visit establishments that prioritize their safety. Turner also mentioned that food hygiene ratings are based on three key areas: the physical condition of the premises, food handling practices, and confidence in management, including staff training and documented systems. All three aspects are crucial for safe and efficient business operations.

Dr. Richard Anderson, Head of Learning and Development at High Speed Training, stressed the importance of thorough and up-to-date food safety and hygiene practices for food establishments. He encouraged customers to check FHRS ratings as they reflect the safety and hygiene standards of an establishment. Anderson noted that while standards remain high across the UK, establishments with low hygiene ratings can significantly impact their reputation and profitability. He emphasized the need for proper food hygiene training, robust food management procedures, and everyday good practices to maintain high standards. Anderson also advised customers not to overlook hygiene ratings and to check them before dining at an establishment to make an informed decision.