Are There "Ratatouille" Restaurants? On Anticorrelation of Food Quality and Hygiene
41 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2020 Last revised: 9 Aug 2022
Date Written: August 9, 2022
We study the empirical relationship between restaurants’ effort to maintain hygiene standards and their food quality scores, as provided by both professional reviewers and consumers. We first propose a microeconomic model, in which the observed hygiene scores are Poisson-generated from the effort made by restaurants. The first-order condition of a restaurant’s profit maximization is used as a Poisson regression equation that relates the hygiene score to the food quality (and other variables). Then, using evidence from the UK high-end restaurants, we show that this relationship is negative and statistically significant. So, a higher food quality is generally associated with less effort to keep the kitchen clean. We find that 3% of Michelin starred restaurants in our dataset have poor hygiene, while the same is true for only 2% of non-Michelin starred restaurants. Our findings illuminate potential channels through which the anticorrelation between food quality and hygiene effort could be mitigated, and can be helpful for hygiene inspectors to prioritize restaurants in their inspection schedule.
Keywords: Food quality, restaurants, consumer reviews, hygiene standards, certification
JEL Classification: L15, D22, I18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation