Bad hygiene at restaurants is a top frustration for diners, study says
- Bad hygiene is the top frustration for those dining in hotels and restaurants, according to Big Domain survey emailed to Restaurant Dive.
- Of the more than 2,000 respondents in the U.K., 56% of diners would complain or demand a discount if a foreign element, such as a hair, was found in their food.
- Forty-nine percent would take issue if their food was cold, 42% would complain over receiving an incorrect plate, and 35% said they would complain because the food quality was not as expected.
Hygiene in restaurants and hotels is a large-scale issue around the world, with customers traditionally expressing their issues both to restaurant managers and staff. But diners are also increasingly reporting issues via online services, such as on Google or Yelp, leaving low scores and bad reviews.
In an effort to provide restaurant transparency to customers, Yelp partnered with HDScores in 2017 to display hygiene scores. HDScores later launched a subscription service that compiled health ratings from more than 1 million businesses and rated them based on cleanliness. The company reviewed 28 million health violations that were reported since 2012.
These reviews and grading systems have been invaluable to customers, but some restaurants have certainly felt the repercussions. Online reviews can cause permanent damage to restaurants, such as a low grade following a food business because of a computer glitch even after the problem was fixed. For this reason, restaurant associations criticized Yelp's health scores. Poor Yelp scores can avail a 12% decline in sales and up to 21% for more serious foodservice issues.
Hygiene scores and violations can have a dramatic impact on not just sales, but also operations. Letter grades in New York City helped salmonella infections drop 5% between 2011 and 2015, for example. Chipotle, which suffered multiple high-profile foodborne outbreaks, has made efforts to revamp its operations in the form of digital supply chain tracking tools. Other outfits have not been so fortunate. A Hepatitis A outbreak pushed Mexican food chain Chi-Chi's into bankruptcy.