The majority of consumers (58%) would not consider purchasing food in a restaurant or takeaway with less than a four-star hygiene rating, research from food safety experts Navitas has revealed.

The findings have been announced on the back of news that Just Eat is to publish the food hygiene rating of all restaurants listed on its delivery platform, and only list restaurants with a minimum of three stars.

Navitas’ survey of just under 2,000 people in England, Wales and Northern England, found that a three-star rating was deemed adequate by only 27%, with 45% stating that four stars was the minimum they would expect. In addition, 13% said they would only eat in five-star rated establishments.

The research also found that if consumers discovered that a food outlet had a lower hygiene rating that anticipated, it would put people going back almost as much as a poor dining experience – even if they had enjoyed eating the food there previously. Over a third (37%) said they would definitely not go back, while 83% said they would probably not/or definitely not go back.

Bob Mackay, a qualified Environmental Health Practitioner and technical director with Navitas Group who has previously called for the mandatory display of food hygiene ratings right across the UK, said the move by Just Eat was good news and supports the work the Food Standards Agency has been doing making diners aware of how and where they can check food hygiene ratings.

He said it should create impetus for food outlets to raise their standards if they want to be listed. “However, as our research shows, food outlets should be aiming higher if they want to attract and retain customers and should ideally be aiming to beat or match the competition by targeting a 5-star rating,” he said.

“Eating out has never been so popular and the choices so varied. Our research shows that people do want to make informed choices and be confident that the food they’re eating away from home has been stored, prepped and cooked safely and correctly and to good hygiene standards,” added Mackay.