A small-scale qualitative study to gain Environmental Health Practitioners’ opinions on the effectiveness of displaying Food Hygiene Ratings


  • Nicola Carrington


Food safety, foodborne illness, Food Standards Agency, Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, Food Hygiene Rating, Environmental Health Practitioner, Local Authorities, qualitative, online platforms, mandatory display


The Food Standards Agency (FSA) runs The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) in partnership with local authorities in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Businesses in Wales and Northern Ireland are legally required to display their ratings in a prominent place, like the front door, entrance, or window of the business. However, displaying ratings is voluntary in England. This study aimed to discover the effect that displaying Food Hygiene Ratings (FHRs) has on a business’s hygiene and food safety. This involved interviewing Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) to gain their opinions on the effectiveness of displaying Food Hygiene Ratings. Six EHPs were interviewed, 2 from England, 2 from Northern Ireland and 2 from Wales. A review of the literature offered insight into the FHRS and what it does. The literature review discusses aspects that could contribute to how effective the FHRS is- such as consumer awareness and Local Authority (LA) attitudes to mandatory display. There was no literature to support or negate a direct link between the displaying of ratings and food safety. Therefore, this study aimed to fill this gap in the literature. Analysis of transcribed interviews identified 4 themes. Findings from this study show that EHPs found the FHRS to be effective. EHPs identified ways to make the scheme more effective-such as mandatory displaying of ratings in online food ordering platforms. A recommendation from this study suggests a partnership between the FSA and online food ordering platforms.