Food hygiene ratings in St Albans are the worst in the East of England on average, but Stevenage is near the top of the table.

Research by High Speed Training shows that the average "score on the door" in St Albans stands at 4.25 out of five.

%image(15460459, type="article-full", alt="On average, premises in Stevenage have the second-highest food hygiene ratings in the East of England")

Stevenage comes out with a sparkling 4.79/5 average rating, second only to Ipswich in the East, and sixth-best in the country alongside Oxford and Stockton-on-Tees.

High Speed Training calculated that the average rating for premises in the East is 4.54/5, using data from 18,000 scores.

This is an improvement since 2019, when a similar survey found that the region scored an average 4.44/5.

"On a whole, ratings are fairly high across the whole of the UK with every single region in the UK improving their average food hygiene score from 2019," said Richard Anderson from High Speed Training.

"For the proportion of establishments with a low hygiene rating, it can be extremely off-putting for customers and ultimately have a significant impact on your reputation and profitability as a business.

"There’s definitely more some establishments can do to improve their hygiene rating, firstly ensuring that all relevant staff have up to date food hygiene training and are aware of their specific responsibilities. It’s then a case of implementing good practices every day to stay on top of hygiene standards.

"And for those customers turning a blind eye when it comes to checking a hygiene rating, we would definitely urge you not to as ignorance isn’t always bliss!"

Premises are given scores based on food hygiene and safety, building cleanliness and facilities, and confidence in management.

Local authority inspectors award the scores.

Liam, the general manager at Pudding Stop in St Albans, holds a 5/5 food hygiene rating.

The café is considered "Elite" because it has received the top score after three inspections running.

%image(15460461, type="article-full", alt="A branch of St Albans-based bakery and café The Pudding Stop - which has a 5/5 "Scores on the Doors" ranking at all of its branches")

Liam said: "It's a huge effort to achieve a 5/5 rating, but it's not necessarily out of reach for most businesses.

"We have got a list of 40-45 steps to do when we open up and close down to keep the building clean and safe.

"We deep clean regularly, and we find that it is useful being part of a city centre where there is access to properly maintained facilities such communal bins which are dealt with professionally."

Liam added that he is proud of his 5/5 "Elite" rating.

With Ipswich and Stevenage leading the way in the East, Chelmsford came third and Colchester - which topped the list in 2019 - came fourth.

Southport near Liverpool topped the national table, while Bolton sits at the bottom of the table with an average score of 3.97/5.