Independent convenience stores are nine times more likely to receive a failing food hygiene rating than multiples.

RN analysed the food hygiene ratings of 173,907 businesses including 6,894 symbol group and unaffiliated convenience stores across the UK.

More than 5% of independent stores received a failing grade compared with 0.51% of multiples and 4% of foodservice providers such as restaurants, pubs and takeaways.

Of the major fascia groups, Spar had the highest pass rate, while Lifestyle Express stores had the lowest.

Any business selling food – which can range from confectionery to hot food – must register their business with the Food Standards Agency, with inspections carried out by local environmental health teams. 

The overall rating out of five is determined by scores across three categories – overall food hygiene, the structure of the business and how compliant the management is in ensuring hygiene standards. 

Stores that fail can be shut down, fined and have legally enforceable measures demanded by local authorities.

Businesses in Northern Ireland and Wales are required by law to make their rating visible to customers, while Scotland operates on a different rating system. 

Businesses in England are not legally required to display their rating, but experts warned this is likely to change.

Jonathan France, an environmental health officer and director of health and safety specialists Trading Safely, said: “Once it becomes mandatory, there’ll be a sudden rush of businesses applying to get a new rating or getting a reassessment. Retailers should act now to keep things as simple as possible.” 

Retail expert Molly Johnson-Jones added: “Having a good food hygiene score can have an impact on the reputation of a retailer. 

“It is vital retailers ensure they have a good score as customers will be more likely to shop in their store.”