A new toolkit to help stores with good food hygiene ratings boost footfall and trade has been launched by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Customers were becoming “increasingly aware of the food hygiene schemes and actively looking for rating stickers” when buying food and drink, the agency said.

Stores rating in the top half of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme scale (3, 4, or 5), and those with a ‘Pass’ under the Food Hygiene Information Scheme that runs in Scotland, can now access an online ‘how to’ guide to help them make the most of their good scores.

In addition to window and door stickers, the agency has also produced a web banner for retailers to download and place on their websites. Ratings can also be embedded on stores’ website using the FSA ‘widget’.

The agency also suggests adding the quote ‘We are proud to say we have achieved the top rating in the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme’ in any flyers and promotional material, and also to include their hygiene rating as part of their signature for customer emails.

Stores could also upload photographs of their hygiene rating stickers to their Facebook pages, the agency added.

“Businesses displaying their ratings are finding this is having a positive impact,” said Catriona Stewart, head of the FSA’s food hygiene ratings team. “People are increasingly looking for the stickers when they are out and we want more businesses to benefit in this way, and our new toolkit can help them make the most of their ratings.”

“The scheme also gives customers the confidence that they are choosing to eat at premises where food hygiene is being taken seriously,” she added.

The scheme is now running in all areas of Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, it is expected that the scheme will be running in 99% of local authority areas by the end of 2013.

The number of businesses displaying their ratings has increased significantly since 2011, with 52% of premises in England, 47% in Wales and 57% in Northern Ireland now displaying them, a recent FSA study showed.

The increases resulted mainly from a greater proportion of businesses with the top two ratings (4s and 5s) putting up their certificates or stickers.

In Wales the display of a rating sticker at food outlets will become a mandatory requirement from November 2013.

For more information and to download the toolkit visit food.gov.uk/ratings