Fish & Chip shops will ‘reel’ in customers with ‘batter’ hygiene as pandemic prompts 70% to check cleanliness ratings before buying according to research from P&G Professional.

– A clean and hygienic chippie[1]is considered more important to the takeout experience than social distancing, or wearing face masks

– Fish & chips remained top of the take outs during lockdown – almost a third[2]chose to tuck into a fish & chip dinner over cuisines such as Indian, Chinese, Pizza or Thai

– Over 65%[3]of Brits want to support local fish & chip shops post-COVID as P&G Professional launches its CleanPLUS experience helping the industry to get back on its feet

A new poll of 2,000 adults has revealed that Brits who never previously checked their favourite takeaway’s hygiene rating – as long as the food was good quality – are now more vigilant about cleanliness and hygiene than ever before.

According to the poll by P&G Professional (the away-from-home division of Procter and Gamble), pre-pandemic, eight in 10[4] were happy to take their chances, often buying a takeaway without looking into how clean and hygienic the shop was, with three quarters[5] admitting the quality of the food was their main priority.

However, in the current climate, more than a quarter[6] said they will ‘always’ check a takeaway’s hygiene rating before visiting a shop or placing an order for collection.

64%[7] of those polled said a clean shop and good hygiene rating is now the most important consideration when choosing where to purchase food from, above the cost (58%) and customer service (45%).

This is in contrast to research carried out in 2019, which saw just 55% name hygiene as a priority.

The study found that for a quick meal from a takeaway while on the move, one in four[8] are likely to pay attention to a restaurant’s hygiene rating. But this figure nearly doubles if it’s somewhere to visit for a family meal (48%). Unsurprisingly, getting a bite to eat at the end of night out is when Brits are least likely to worry about the hygiene score (22%).

The results revealed that whilst 35%[9] avoided ordering food from takeaway outlets during the pandemic, Brits were loyal to the tradition of ‘Fish Fridays’, with almost 30%[10] ordering fish & chips at the end of the week.

In fact, we’re still hooked on fish & chips as the traditional dish remains top of the takeouts for a second year running, with 29% of the vote – closely followed by pizza at 26%. One in ten[11]  tucked into a fish supper weekly during lockdown between mid-March and June.

Yet the coronavirus outbreak has had an unprecedented impact on people’s expectations when it comes to the cleanliness and hygiene of those serving up our nation’s favourite dish.

The poll revealed that over 70%[12] admit to checking a fish & chip shop’s hygiene rating before using them, and almost half[13] would not return if they noticed the surfaces and kitchen area were unclean. 

Hook, grime and stinker

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, 40%[14] are likely to leave a bad online review if a fish & chip shop or takeaway’s cleanliness and hygiene isn’t up to scratch – a 14% uplift vs pre-pandemic – and four in 10 adults are more likely to report breaches of cleanliness in their local takeaways.

When the chips are down, the majority said ordering from a takeaway or shop that looks clean and tidy would make them feel most comfortable in the current climate. This came above staff wearing masks (51%), customers wearing masks (29%) and even employees wearing gloves (53%).

As this iconic British industry gets back on its feet post-COVID, P&G Professional is supporting fish & chip shops to prepare for a Clean Start; with practical advice and guidance curated in partnership with the 2020 and 2019 winners of the National Fish & Chip Shop of the Year award, The Cod’s Scallops, and Krispies respectively.

Together, they are working to educate fish & chip shops and other takeaway business owners on the importance of cleaning for business success in a post-pandemic world.

John Molnar, owner of award-winning chain, The Cod’s Scallops, Nottingham, said: “The heightened awareness surrounding infection control means business owners should be paying more attention to their hygiene practices than ever before. Cleaning, and the brands you choose, should be a critical part of your business strategy, especially since these results show the clear impact a low rating or bad impression can have on your bottom line.”

The statistics show that one in three[15] respondents would be more likely to frequent a restaurant or takeaway if the staff used cleaning brands they knew and trusted, while another 68%[16] would feel reassured about how hygienic a fish and chip shop or takeaway is if they see staff physically cleaning while they’re in there.

A chip shop or other takeaway looking ‘clean and tidy’ was also found to be what would make adults feel most comfortable when visiting (57%).

Kelly Barnes of Krispies, Exmouth, added: “To operate successfully, it’s clear that businesses need to show clearly how processes are managed so visitors feel confident about cleanliness. To keep both customers, and Krispies staff safe, we’re following three simple steps: frequent cleaning, enforcing social distancing, and regular hand washing.”

Greg Elmore, UK & Ireland Country Sales Lead at P&G Professional, comments: “As the UK slowly starts to emerge from lockdown, it’s a great opportunity to support local businesses, and these results show that two thirds of chip lovers are doing just that by frequenting their favourite chippy to boost the economy.

“Yet the last few months have made a lot of people think more about cleanliness and hygiene, which can only be a good thing – particularly where their food is concerned. These statistics show that customers want to know and see how businesses are managing cleanliness, and it is critical that this is communicated clearly to the public. Transparency surrounding cleaning processes will have a profound impact on the success of the foodservice industry over the next year.

He adds: “The recent launch of the P&G Professional CleanPLUS Experience answers this need. Available as a window sticker or digital asset for website use via the NFFF, this stamp of approval from trusted household name brands (Fairy, Flash and Ariel) is a mark of assurance for guests that an establishment has been cleaned to the highest standards.”

Top things that make Brits feel comfortable in takeaways include:

  1. The takeaway/ restaurant looks clean and tidy
  2. Guests are required to social distance
  3. Employees wearing gloves when handling food / drinks
  4. Guests must sanitize their hands upon entering the takeout shop / restaurant
  5. Staff are wearing masks
  6. More frequent cleaning
  7. Contactless payments
  8. Guests can see their table / food collection area being cleaned and prepared before they sit down
  9. More thorough cleaning
  10. Guests are restricted to one person at a time when using toilets
  11. You can see cleaning products which are being used regularly
  12. Guests must be wearing masks
  13. Guests have to show proof of wellness