A new report from food industry specialist insurer, NFU Mutual, shows that more than 52,000 businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland could be faced with losing over a third of business, as 34% of people would turn away from premises displaying a food hygiene rating of 3 or less.

The report, ‘A Fresh Look at Food Hygiene’, also shows that public awareness of food-related illnesses is extremely high. Ninety per cent of consumers were aware of salmonella being an issue for food producers, 86% recognising E. coli and 68% recognising listeria. Only 6% of respondents failed to identify any illnesses at all.

Darren Seward, food and drink manufacturing sector specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “When even the biggest food businesses in the UK are struggling with allergens and labelling, the pressure is on for companies of all sizes to make safety and hygiene a priority. Amidst the challenges currently facing the food industry, the findings show how important hygiene is to the public, and how the impact can span across the supply chain.”

Denise Rion, head of technical at the British Frozen Food Federation, said: “With consumers increasingly demanding better-quality foods at the lowest possible price, the pressure is on for the industry. We need to ensure that food not only reaches the customer’s plate in the very best condition, but that it is also safe to eat.

“This requires careful attention not just in the factory but throughout the entire supply chain. From the design and layout of the equipment, to selecting the right cleaning chemicals, adherence to proper hygiene standards is essential.”

To request a free PDF copy of the full report, visit www.nfumutual.co.uk/foodhygiene