Michael Gearon

Online Food Hygiene Rating

Michael Gearon

Last updated on

When ordering a takeaway we sometimes use personal reviews, recommendations, photography, and the establishments website or social media to make our decision. However recently I noticed there is no benchmark that compares one takeaway service to another, one person’s expectations of what ‘quality’ is could be different to another’s.


Before going to a food establishment we more often than not use Instagram, Twitter, TripAdvisor and other social media networks to view photos, tweets and retweets of other people saying how good the food was to inform our decisions. We also view the businesses website to consider their prices and share their menus with friends or family.

Whilst at a restaurant we take our own photos, we judge the establishment, the price, the quality of the food and the overall service. During our time at the restaurant we then make our own judgement on the quality of the business.

We then post our own reviews on our social media accounts for others to read, share, and then visit themselves. This creates a circle which if managed well by the business can lead to a very successful business, and can provide a valuable and more importantly free form of advertisement.

The issue is how does this system work with ordering an online or over the phone takeaway, how do we consider the quality then?

The Issue

The issue I faced was recently I was ordering a takeaway on my mobile and using a mixture of apps and websites trying to decide what the best takeaway was in my area. The only indicators to tell me that if it was a good business was other people’s reviews, photos but nothing about the hygiene of the establishment, and how it has been prepared, packaged and delivered. Therefore it was difficult to know what the ‘quality’ of the business was.

Whilst using a mobile application that features a wide array of takeaways, the top or the recommended business suggested to me had good personal reviews, it also had a good pricing structure and it was conveniently close to my location however after searching on the Food Standards Agency website it only had a 1 star out of 5 rating by the Food Standards Agency. This clearly told me that this business is probably not a good suggestion to go with as the overall quality could be poor. So who is the food standards agency and why is 1 star terrible?

The Food Standards Agency


The Food Standards Agency aims to provide a benchmark using the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme which is used in England, Wales and Northern Island and in Scotland a different scheme called ‘Food Hygiene Information Scheme’. This scheme provides information on the hygiene and safety of the kitchen and the general business allowing customers to eat safely knowing that their food has been prepared in a safe environment.

How is this rating worked out?

According to the Food Government website the rating is based on the following points:

  • How hygienically the food is handled – how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored
  • The condition of the structure of the buildings – the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities
  • How the business manages what it does to make sure food is safe and so that the officer can be confident standards will be maintained in the future

Displaying an online rating scheme

From research in this topic it is only compulsory in Wales to show the rating if they get a new rating after 28 November 2013, in England and Northern Ireland it is not compulsory. From a digital perspective this could be a good way for a business owner to inform their customers why they should choose their establishment over a competitor and that personal reviews are not the only way to make an informed decisions.

We should treat our websites and social media as a storefront in a digital space, if it is law for all establishments in Wales to display the rating on the front of the shop shouldn’t this become compulsory for websites as well? By informing the general public about your establishment you add a level of safety and an almost guarantee that what you serve is at a standard which has been officially approved.

Final Thoughts

I would be interested in your thoughts on this, is it the case that businesses should feature the rating by law? Did you know about the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and what it involved? When was your last takeaway and did you think about the how it was prepared, and delivered? Thank you for reading this post.

Michael Gearon

Written by

Michael Gearon

Senior Interaction Designer and Co-Author to Tiny CSS Projects