HOUSEHOLD names such as Little Chef, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Londis are dragging the county down in the food hygiene stakes, a trade union has claimed.

Oxford has the eighth highest number of restaurants with two stars or lower in the south east of England and the GMB union said some major firms were letting standards slip.

Just one place below the city was the South Oxfordshire district, where Little Chef in Thame has a one star rating.

Oxford has 66 businesses with either a zero, one or two star rating, which – at five per cent of all restaurants – put it above the average for the South East.

The union's southern secretary, Paul Maloney, said: "It is not just small businesses that need to raise standards – several chains and household names appear in lists for areas we looked at in the study."

Among those with low scores in the city include Gourmet Burger Kitchen in George Street, which was given a two-star score in February and has yet to be re-inspected.

Londis in Walton Street, Jericho, was another big name with a low score – after it was also given a two-star rating in April.

Other chains such as Chicken Cottage, in Cowley Road and Chicken Hut, in Between Towns Road and Costcutter in Marston Road – all two stars – saw the city make the top 10 worst places in the South East.

Other restaurants with low scores include Peri Peri Original in Cowley Road with two stars and Perios, Cowley Road, and Rose Hill Fish and Chips, both with one star.

Mr Maloney called for a change in the law to make it compulsory to display hygiene ratings in restaurants.

He said: "All food premises in England should be forced to display ‘Scores on the Doors’ ratings to improve hygiene standards and protect people from harm.

"Consumers have an absolute right to know what score any outlet they may want to use has got.

"Food outlets in Wales and Northern Ireland are legally required to display their rating.

"However, in England, outlets do not have to display the rating they have been awarded."

"Making the display of hygiene ratings on the door compulsory in England would incentivise food outlets to improve or maintain high hygiene standards.

"This would reduce the risk of illness for customers, improve consumer confidence and save taxpayers’ money by reducing the need for, and cost of, enforcement action by councils - everyone wins."