Don't let a bad meal spoil your Valentine's Day date

News Desk
Authored by News Desk
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 10:02am

According to a new poll by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), 17% of people in the South West have had a dating disaster on Valentine’s Day and, across the UK, bad restaurant experiences are responsible for a third (34%) of all nightmare nights out.

34% of daters in the South West report that getting food poisoning from a restaurant is the worst thing that could happen to them on Valentine’s Day – even ahead of being dumped (28%). Despite this, 37% don’t check the food hygiene rating of a restaurant before booking their Valentine’s meal.

To help people avoid their dream date becoming a Valentine’s nightmare, the FSA has teamed up with Made in Chelsea man-about-town, Hugo Taylor, to share some top-tips for romantic success.

Four in ten (40%) of adults in the South West intend to mark Valentine’s Day with their partner or a date this year, with 68% reporting that a meal out will form part of their plans.

Other top causes of the UK’s Valentine’s dating dramas are arguments (39%), breakups (16%), being ill (14%) and getting too drunk (12%).

Here are some of Hugo’s top-tips:

1. Find an outfit
Make sure you’re looking your best by getting that all-important dress or suit professionally cleaned or going shopping for something new ahead of the big night.

2. Think ahead and book your restaurant/venue in advance
Valentine’s is one of the biggest days of the year for many restaurants, and special venues usually get booked up ahead of the 14th. Plan ahead so you don’t miss out.

3. Don’t forget to check the food hygiene rating
You can’t tell a restaurant’s hygiene standards by how clean and tidy the staff look or by the ambience or quality of the romantic décor. Luckily, it’s really simple to check. Just go to the Food Standards Agency’s website: or if you’re out and about look for the green and black sticker. Remember, if you can’t see a sticker, ask the staff.  Over 90% of food businesses are rated a 3 or above so there are plenty of places with good food hygiene standards to choose from. This means you can easily avoid taking your special date to those places not meeting the grade.

4. Watch what you order
When ordering food, make sure it’s not too messy – you don’t want to ruin your new outfit! Also be mindful of your alcohol intake – you don’t want your night to end earlier than planned!

5. Turn your mobile off
Pay attention to your date, particularly when it comes to checking your mobile. Can that text message or Facebook post wait? Leave it until you’re home and step away from the phone.

6. And finally – have fun and be yourself!

Hugo Taylor said: “I know how important it is to make the right impression. There’s lots to think about when planning a good date, and making sure the restaurant you’re booking meets a good food hygiene standard means you can have peace of mind. One of the easiest ways to do that is to look before you book – it’s easy to check on your phone and means you can focus on having a good time with your date.”

Catriona Stewart, Head of the Food Hygiene Ratings Scheme at the FSA, said: “On Valentine’s Day people are focused on making sure that meal goes well and that they make a good impression with their date. We want them to factor in the food hygiene rating when deciding where to go and then enjoy their romantic meal out.  It’s easy to check ratings on our website.”

Restaurants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are given a ‘hygiene rating’, which shows how closely the business is meeting the requirements of food hygiene law. Ratings range from 0 being the worst to 5 being the best.  These results are available on the FSA website but many restaurants also display a green and black rating sticker in their window or door. In total, 91% of restaurants are rated 3, 4 or 5, meaning there are plenty of places with good standards to choose from.

For more information or to check the food hygiene rating of your local restaurant, takeaway or café visit:

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