Which? Food Hygiene Research ‘Must Lead To Consistent High Standards’

Illness Experts Describe ‘Postcode Lottery’ As Unacceptable


By Rob Dixon

Legal experts who represent victims of illness outbreaks in the UK and abroad have warned that urgent action needs to be taken to ensure a consistent high standard of hygiene is seen in restaurants across the UK, following the release of worrying new research from Which?

The consumer organisation’s study looked at data from 2011 onwards and found that wide variations can be seen in relation to food hygiene ratings in different postcodes across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It was revealed that the DA7 postcode in Bexley had the lowest score, averaging 2.6 on a six-point scale. In comparison, the B35 postcode in Birmingham recorded a rating of 4.9. The study also revealed that, in the past two years, up to 17 million people claimed to have suffered food poisoning as a result of eating out or having a takeaway.

Which? is now calling for it to be made mandatory for restaurants to clearly display their hygiene score.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist illness lawyers act for people who have suffered serious long-term health problems after falling victim to outbreaks of suspected food poisoning in the UK, on cruise ships and in hotels and resorts across the globe.

The team are notably investigating claims for around 30 people affected by illness after attending the Street Spice food festival which was held at Newcastle’s Centre for Life at the end of February.

Suki Chhokar, a Partner and expert in illness claims at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Through the range of cases we have acted in, we have seen first-hand the terrible consequences that food poisoning can have on people of all ages.

“Such illnesses can often be underestimated, as many people do not realise how common it is for people to suffer long-term symptoms or develop related problems as a result of such outbreaks. This is why these findings from Which? are so worrying.

“It is simply unacceptable that people face what is essentially a ‘postcode lottery’ when eating out and we would urge Public Health England and other authorities across the UK to make every effort to ensure a consistently high standard of food hygiene is being met in all eateries and takeaways.

“Consumers deserve to know that food safety is being put first and that their welfare is the top priority when they eat out or enjoy a stay on a cruise ship or in a hotel. Food hygiene is hugely important and this research must lead to an improvement in standards.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in relation to Group Claims