A recent survey found that 75% of diners refuse to visit restaurants that have experienced food hygiene issues and would rather suffer poor service and/or rude and unhelpful staff than unclean premises or low food ratings.
The consumer research was carried out online with 1,000 UK consumers by Toluna in the first quarter of 2016 and commissioned by Checkit.net, which supplies automated monitoring and work management software.
Checkit.com also found that 61% won’t eat at a restaurant, takeaway, coffee shop or pub that has a low Food Hygiene Rating from the UK’s Food Standards Agency.
66% of respondents rated unclean or dirty premises as the first or second reason for not returning to a restaurant where 32% said rude or unhelpful staff would stop them coming back to a restaurant and just 16% cited slow or poor service.
The impact of being implicated in a food hygiene incident is catastrophic for the survival of any restaurant business. Of the 75% of consumers that wouldn’t risk a visit, 43% said they’d never dine there no matter what while 32% would only return if it had closed down and reopened under new ownership.
A further 22% said they’d only return if the Food Hygiene Rating improved dramatically – meaning that owners would need deep pockets and the ability to invest heavily over a long period of time to meet hygiene standards, rebuild trust and attract diners back.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Michelin-starred restaurant or a local takeaway – consumers will not tolerate poor food hygiene and will vote with their feet if a restaurant has been implicated in a food hygiene incident,” said Dee Roche, Marketing Director at Checkit.net, “This demonstrates the enormous impact that poor food safety has on business survival – how could you cope with 61% of your customers boycotting your restaurant? These findings are a wake-up call to those restaurants that think that food safety is not a customer priority.”
The research also found that consumers had the highest expectations of fine dining restaurants with 69% saying they would not visit any that had a low Food Hygiene Rating. This was followed by takeaways (including Chinese, Indian or kebab sellers) with 64% of people avoiding any with low Food Hygiene Ratings. In contrast they were slightly better disposed to cafés and coffee shops (55%), possibly due to the more limited range of food being sold.
“Food Hygiene Ratings matter to consumers and are an increasingly important part of choosing where they eat,” said David Davies, Checkit.net’s Managing Director, “Restaurants therefore need to ensure they’re doing everything in their power to guarantee food safety – or the consequences for their business could be dire.
“While restaurants have been quick to invest in new, front-of-house technology such as smart tablets to take orders many still rely on paper checklists to manage food safety processes in the kitchen. It’s time to move away from grubby bits of paper and invest in technology to better manage food safety.”
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland helps consumers choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving them information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, takeaways and food shops. The scale runs from 0 (urgent improvement necessary) through 1 (major improvement necessary) and 2 (improvement necessary) up to 5 (very good).
Ratings are available from the Food Standards Agency’s websites and are normally displayed within the premises as well.
A full management report on the research is available at http://www.checkit.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/The_Financial_Impact_of_Poor_Food_Safety.pdf