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Food businesses fradulently displaying incorrect hygiene ratings

On Wednesday 18th July, BBC one aired their weekly programme, Fake Britain with a prominent feature on Food Hygiene Ratings. In England, food businesses are required to undergo inspection annually, as a matter of law. However, whilst businesses in Wales and Northern Ireland must display their food hygiene ratings, it is not yet mandatory in England.

Nevertheless, in our ‘trip advisor’ society where most of us wouldn’t dare visit a restaurant without having first inspected its menu and reviews, food hygiene ratings are becoming an increasingly relevant marketing tool.

This was presumably the thinking behind London based café Velis’ decision to misleadingly display their food hygiene score as a five – the highest possible ranking. The business was fined £2000 for having placed both a sticker on the premises’ door and a certificate in full visibility next to the till, both of which displayed the wrong score – the business had in fact been given a food hygiene rating of one, indicating that “much improvement [was] necessary.”

The stickers appeared authentic and would have indubitably misled countless customers, providing reassurance that their food and the environment it was produced in, met the highest standards. Following the discovery at Velis, North London, the Fake Britain team investigated other businesses in the area only to discover that another four within close proximity, were too fraudulently displaying an incorrect rating.

It is expected that the display of food hygiene ratings will soon become mandatory in England, which will likely lead to increased fraud surrounding food hygiene ratings. Fortunately, the FSA – the government body charged with ensuring the safety of food and drink products in the UK, has established a fail safe tool for verifying a businesses’ FHR. To check food hygiene ratings within the UK, simply head to

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