Financial News

  • 14 January 2014, 13:56

Food Safety: Worst Councils Named And Shamed

Local councils that are failing to ensure food businesses comply with hygiene regulations have been named and shamed by a consumer watchdog.

The investigation into 395 local authorities by Which?, using data obtained from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), revealed more than a third of high and medium-risk food businesses are not complying with safety rules.

The hygiene risk of a business was based on the type of food, the number of consumers at risk, the method of processing and confidence in the management.

Local authority rankings were based upon criteria such as the number of premises compliant with hygiene requirements, the number of visits performed by council inspectors and the percentage of premises yet to receive a risk rating.

Bexley in London was exposed as the worst-performing local authority, with five further London councils appearing in the bottom 10, including Ealing, Enfield, Harrow, Richmond upon Thames and Southwark.

The study revealed that overall, food testing fell by 6.8% from the previous year, while testing for correct labelling and presentation fell by 16.2%.

The figures showed no hygiene sampling at all was carried out by Bexley, Christchurch, Isles of Scilly, Medway, Tamworth, West Lindsey and West Yorkshire authorities.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, said: "No one wants another horse meat fiasco, so it is very worrying that local authority food checks are in decline.

"We want to see a more strategic approach to food law enforcement that makes the best use of limited resources and responds effectively to the huge challenges facing the food supply chain."

But the Local Government Association defended local authorities it said were "working hard" to improve food hygiene standards in the face of government funding cuts.

The Local Government Association's regulation spokesman Nick Worth said: "Random sampling is just one tool available to councils and a reduction in testing does not mean an increased safety risk to the public.

"Targeting high-risk businesses and acting on complaints is a far more effective use of their limited resources and also allows councils to free up responsible businesses from unnecessary inspections and red tape."

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