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The notion of consumer sovereignty is not a new concept. However to effectively use it as a tool to improve food hygiene standards, proprietors of eating-places must know what customers look for to assess those standards. It is also important that customers demonstrate their unwillingness to buy from unhygienic premises. This article summarises research, using the "Delphi Technique", backed up by semi-structured interviews which has established a body of new knowledge about the subject. Conclusions are drawn about the relevance of food hygiene standards to running an effective business and the need for a public education campaign. The results also challenge current views about the importance of food hygiene standards to customers.