Food hygiene humiliation: six of the 10 worst councils are in London

More than a third of high-risk food businesses across the UK are failing to meet food hygiene standards and testing levels are declining, it has emerged.

Which? magazine investigated 395 local authorities across the UK and has revealed that more than a third of medium or high-risk businesses are not meeting requirements set by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The local authorities guilty of failing to uphold food hygiene safety standards have been named and shamed by the consumer guidance watchdog.

Bexley in London was revealed as the worst performing area, while a further five London authorities, Ealing, Enfield, Harrow, Richmond upon Thames and Southwark, were in the bottom 10 of the list.

Rankings were based on the number of premises compliant with hygiene requirements, the number of visits by council inspectors, and the number of premises yet to receive a hygiene rating.

The study also found that overall, the level of testing by councils had also fallen by 6.8% from the year before, and testing for correct labelling and presentation had dropped by 16.2%.

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.”

The Local Government Association (LGA) moved to defend local authorities which it said were working to improve food safety standards in the face of government funding cuts.

The LGA’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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