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UK Food Hygiene Report: The Least Hygienic Areas & Restaurants

We’ve analysed over 150,000 UK businesses including restaurants, takeaways, cafes, and pubs to understand the current state of food hygiene in the UK.

In this report, we cover:

  • Average food hygiene ratings by cuisine and restaurant type
  • Chain restaurants with the most failed inspections
  • The least hygienic types of restaurant in every local authority (search for your area)

To obtain average ratings for different categories of restaurants, we cross-referenced official FSA hygiene rating data with each restaurant’s Google Business Profile business type.

Our full methodology is included at the end of this article.


The above chart shows average food hygiene rating data for categories of restaurants with over 1,000 premises in our data set. For brevity, categories such as “Indian takeaway” and “Indian restaurant” have been combined. The unfiltered data set with all restaurant categories can be seen in the table below.

Key highlights

  • 1 in 10 fried chicken shops failed their latest food inspection with an average rating of 3.91.
  • Chinese and Indian restaurants aren’t far behind – with around 9% failing their latest inspection.
  • Coffee shops, tea rooms, and British restaurants are the cleanest establishments to eat at.
  • Subway is the chain with the most stores failing their latest inspection (20 at time of release).
  • In general, takeaways have worse food hygiene than restaurants. Only 52% of takeaways got the top rating of 5, compared to 62% of restaurants. This is possibly due to takeaways having more volume going through the kitchen and the need to get the food out faster.
  • Birmingham is the least hygienic area in the UK – with an average food hygiene rating of just 3.79.
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff (3.83) and Waltham Forest (3.86) are just behind Birmingham.
  • The Isles of Scilly, Dorset, and Stockton-On-Tees are the three most hygienic areas in the UK, scoring 4.90, 4.85, and 4.81 respectively.

Keep reading for a more detailed breakdown.

Restaurant breakdown

This table looks at the different restaurant types in the UK and what their average food hygiene rating is.

Each restaurant has self-defined which category they best fit into (via their Google Business Profile).

wdt_IDCategoryRatingFailing PremisesFailing %Total Premises
1African restaurant3.627218395
2Shisha bar3.681919101
3Pakistani restaurant3.734317253
4Middle Eastern restaurant3.823314238
5Halal restaurant3.841312112
6Bangladeshi restaurant3.872813219
7Fried chicken takeaway3.91142101,372
8Indian takeaway3.94391103,745
9Persian restaurant3.95108121
10Chinese restaurant4.00246102,456

The above table shows average food hygiene rating data for categories of restaurants with over 100 premises in our data set. For clarity, categories such as “Indian takeaway” and “Indian restaurant” have not been merged in this table. These are self-declared business types as defined by Google.

  • Over 800 Chinese takeaways failed their latest food safety inspection, the most of any restaurant type.
  • Over 900 pubs and bars failed their latest hygiene inspection, plus 3 fine-dining restaurants.
  • Doughnut shops and carveries uphold the best food hygiene practices with an average rating of over 4.8 and only 1 failing location each.
  • Focusing on takeaways, sushi takeaways have the best average rating (4.53 from 181 locations), followed closely by the British classic of fish and chips (4.46 from over 9000 locations).
  • Fried chicken takeaways and Indian takeaways both have an average rating of less than 4.

UK (exc Scotland)

The below map shows the average food hygiene rating by area in the UK.

Scotland is separated from these figures as it uses a pass/fail system instead of the 6-point rating system adopted by the rest of the UK. You can see the Scotland map here.

wdt_IDRankLocal AuthorityRatingFailing PremisesFailing %Premises
11Birmingham3.79413172,380
22Rhondda, Cynon, Taff3.83356552
33Waltham Forest3.869613729
44Ealing3.9111613901
55Blaenau Gwent3.911510145
  • Cities and dense urban areas tend to score lower on average than their rural counterparts.
  • Greater London and the West Midlands are the regions with the worst average rating in the UK at 4.27 and 4.29 respectively.
  • Every region in Northern Ireland scores above the national average of 4.43. Perhaps it has something to do with businesses in Northern Ireland being legally required to display their food hygiene rating since 2006.
  • That said, it’s also mandatory to display food hygiene ratings in Wales, which is home to three of the UK’s top ten least hygienic areas.

London

The below map shows the average food hygiene rating by local authority in London.

London has several local authorities that fall below the national average of 4.43. Out of 33 boroughs, only 12 had a higher than average rating.

wdt_IDRankLocal AuthorityRatingFailing PremisesFailing %Premises
11Waltham Forest3.869613729
22Ealing3.9111613901
33Newham3.9710714787
44Enfield3.987412642
55Islington4.018281,076
  • 6% of establishments in London failed their food safety inspection. 
  • Waltham Forest is the worst borough with an average rating of 3.86 from 729 restaurants (the 3rd worst in the whole of the UK).
  • Cafes and coffee shops in Waltham forest score significantly lower than their average across the country. 18% of cafes failed their inspections, compared to an average of only 4% across the country.
  • Ealing, Newham, and Enfield all have an average rating of below 4. Pizza takeaways are the worst offenders in Ealing, while in Newham it’s Indian restaurants and in Enfield, it’s Indian takeaways.
  • The cleanest place to eat in London is Kensington and Chelsea. With an average rating of 4.8, it’s the 4th best in the UK.

Scotland

Scotland uses a different rating system than the rest of the UK, with three possible outcomes:

  • Improvement required
  • Pass
  • Pass and eat safe (which means the business has gone above and beyond the legal requirements)

For the purposes of this study, we count ‘pass’ and ‘pass and eat safe’ as the same thing. Only 78 premises out of over 12,000 achieved a pass and eat safe status.

wdt_IDRankLocal AuthorityFailing PremisesFailing %Premises
11Highland16326624
22Shetland Islands112446
33Aberdeen City10821506
44South Lanarkshire13721644
55Midlothian2318129
  • In Scotland, 22% of kebab shops and 21% of pizza takeaways are failing to meet food safety standards.
  • The highland region is the least hygienic place to eat in Scotland, with over 25% of all establishments failing their food safety inspections. 
  • Over 50% of the Chinese takeaways and Indian restaurants located in the highland region require improvement.
  • South Ayrshire is the most hygienic place to eat in Scotland, with no failing locations.

The least hygienic restaurants in your area

The table below shows how each type of restaurant fares in your local area.

For example, did you know that kebab shops in Wigan have an average rating of just 2.38, and that fried chicken shops in Bolton have an average rating of 2.69?

Use the dropdown to select a local authority (e.g. “Waltham Forest”), a region (e.g. “London” or “North East England”), or a country.

Chain restaurants with the most failing outlets

These are the chains with the most outlets failing their latest food hygiene inspection:

  • Subway (20 outlets)
  • Dixy Chicken (14 outlets)
  • Favorite Chicken & Ribs (9 outlets)
  • Caffè Nero (9 outlets)
  • Pepe’s (8 outlets)
  • Costa (7 outlets)
  • Greene King Pubs (7 outlets)
  • Kebabish Original (6 outlets)
  • Papa Johns Pizza (6 outlets)
  • KFC (5 outlets)

What is a food hygiene rating?

The aim of the food hygiene rating system is to help consumers make informed decisions about where to eat, by providing clear information about the hygiene standard of each business.

Every business in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland that serves food and drink to customers is inspected by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on a regular basis.

Scotland has an equivalent scheme called the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS).

The inspectors look at things including:

  • How food is stored, handled, and prepared. As well as how food is reheated.
  • The conditions and cleanliness of the building 
  • The training and systems put in place by the business to ensure ongoing food safety 

The frequency of inspections ranges from 6 months to 2 years, depending on how much risk the business poses to consumers.

After the inspection, the FSA will assign the business a rating from 0 to 5. With 0 being urgent improvement required, and 5 being very good. 

A rating of 3 or above is considered a pass.

In Scotland, each business will only be assigned a ‘pass’ or ‘improvement needed’ rating.

In Wales and Northern Ireland, it’s required by law for an establishment to display its rating. In England and Scotland, it’s only advised. 

Press & media enquiries

For any press and media enquiries, or for access to any specific base data, please contact Veronica at [email protected].

Methodology

A complete download of all UK food hygiene data was made on 3rd July 2022. From the 14 available categories, businesses in the following five categories were extracted:

  • Takeaway/sandwich shop
  • Other catering premises
  • Restaurant/Cafe/Canteen
  • Manufacturers/packers
  • Pub/bar/nightclub

The manufacturers/packers category was included due to the high number of miscategorised businesses observed in it. It’s important to note that true manufacturing premises were excluded in the next stage of the data cleansing process.

After this initial filtering process, each business was cross-referenced against their Google Business Profile ‘Business Type’. A second round of filtering was conducted to leave only businesses falling into one of the 87 business types listed in the tables above. Irrelevant businesses were excluded from the data set and very small categories merged with their closest neighbour.

Businesses operated from private addresses were excluded from this data set.

Exempt businesses and businesses awaiting a rating have also been excluded from this data set.

Total establishments in the final data set: 164,580.

Disclaimer & licenses

Food hygiene ratings are subject to continuous change.

The official FSA food hygiene rating database is updated daily to reflect the results of any new inspection(s). If in doubt, check the official food hygiene ratings database for confirmation.

Sources

https://developers.google.com/my-business
https://ratings.food.gov.uk/open-data/en-GB