Thousands of restaurants and food outlets across West Yorkshire risk being snubbed by diners over new rules around food hygiene ratings.
Some 2,651 food businesses in the county - more than 15 per cent of the total - have scores of three or less out of five in the Food Standards Agency’s hygiene ratings, and under new laws set to come into force by 2019, it will be mandatory for those ratings to be displayed.
A warning that suggests the new rules could prove costly comes from the results of a new survey carried out by insurer NFU Mutual, which found almost half of people in West Yorkshire - 44 per cent - could physically turn away from the front doors of even their favourite place to eat if it only has a rating of three - ‘generally satisfactory’ - or less.
Darren Seward, hospitality sector specialist at NFU Mutual, which today published its food hygiene ratings report, believes the imminent compulsory display of ratings will be a “game changer” for business that are struggling to reach the top grades.
“Our report shows that when it comes to food safety, customers have naturally high standards and that a ‘good’ score can no longer be seen as an aspiration but a minimum benchmark,” Mr Seward said.
There are 743 food businesses in Leeds with a score of three and below, 619 in Kirklees, 585 in Bradford, 382 in Calderdale and 322 in Wakefield. The area with the highest percentage of food businesses with a score of three or less is Calderdale (18.46 per cent), compared to 17.2 in Kirklees, 14.64 in Bradford, 14.57 in Leeds and 13.26 in Wakefield.
More than 84 per cent of food businesses in West Yorkshire have ratings higher than three.