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Scores on Doors must be displayed in England

‘Scores on Doors’ is a type of grading (score) of retail food hygiene where the restaurant, café or sandwich shop displays the inspection hygiene score where it is directly visible to the consumer – on the door. The intention is to reduce food related illness. A recent UK local government report makes the point that, unlike food businesses in N. Ireland, Wales and Scotland where it is compulsory to put the Scores on the Doors, in England there is no obligation to do so.

Scores on Doors

Scores on the Doors

Grading is a form of disclosure of information (public sharing by a regulator of an organisation’s performance) gained through a workplace regulation visit and made public either through a website or report. The inspection grading of food hygiene in restaurants and fast food outlets is worldwide (FSA, 2009, Ho, 2012, Jin and Lee, 2012, Jin and Lee, 2010, 2013, Jones, 2004, Ryan and Detsky, 2015).

Changing Motivation

Grading schemes are designed to change consumer preferences that, in relation to food outlets, the UK Food Standards Agency states, tend to be based primarily on word of mouth, local popularity, cost and quality of the menu (FSA, 2009). Consumer knowledge of the hygiene score has been found to reduce the incidence of food related illnesses (Jin and Leslie, 2009).

A score on the door may be the nudge the consumer needs to give hygiene greater importance when choosing where to eat. It serves also as the nudge managers need to improve food hygiene. Without mandatory public display there will be no pressure from consumers on low scoring outlets, which is why England should fall into line with Wales, N. Ireland and Scotland.

Grading – Could do Better

On balance, grading is effective but not without its problems (Ho, 2012, Jin and Leslie, 2009). Ho makes the following comments on food hygiene grading schemes in the United States, also relevant to the Scores on Doors:

  • Regulatory bodies should release detailed data on the scheme they run in order that others may evaluate it
  • This wholesale release of data should then be used by commercial public rating sites such as Yelp or Trip Advisor rather than relying on regulatory body sites which are not as popular with the public (see also FSA, 2009)
  • Inspection criteria should be simplified to reduce variability
  • Regulator visits should be at random intervals. (Ho, 2012: p. 650-657).

You can find the FSA update on Scores on Doors here. More Precepts research and evaluation is available here.


FSA 2009. Scores on the Doors National Website Development Research, London, COI,

Ho, D. E. 2012. Fudging the Nudge: Information Disclosure and Restaurant Grading. Yale LJ, 122, 574.

Jin, G. Z. & Lee, J. 2010. The Imperfection of Human Inspectors: Lessons from Florida Restaurant Inspections. Available: http://www.econ.as.nyu.edu/docs/IO/19018/Jin_03212011.pdf.

Jin, G. Z. & Lee, J. 2012. A Tale of Repetition: Lessons from Florida Restaurant Inspections, University of Maryland,

Jin, G. Z. & Lee, J. 2013. Inspection Technology, Detection and Compliance: Evidence from Florida Restaurant Inspections. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series, No. 18939.

Jin, G. Z. & Leslie, P. 2009. Reputational Incentives for Restaurant Hygiene. American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 1, 1, 237-267.

Jones, S. 2004. Improving Local Government Performance: One Step Forward Not Two Steps Back. Public Money and Management, 24, 1, 47-55.

Ryan, A. M. & Detsky, A. S. 2015. Grade Pending: Lessons for Hospital Quality Reporting from the New York City Restaurant Sanitation Inspection Program. Journal of Hospital Medicine, 10, 2, 116-119.

You may also be interested in reading our cornerstone article on standards

Our post on whistleblowing is also relevant.