Local authorities are failing to take enough steps to ensure that restaurant kitchens meet strict hygiene regulations, according to a damning new report.
An investigation by consumer champion Which? claims that food hygiene in the restaurant sector has become a “postcode lottery” due to a disparate approach from local councils.
Around half a million people suffer food poisoning each year and, according to Which!, some areas of the country are falling well below basic food hygiene requirements. It said that in some of the worst performing local authorities, “you might as well toss a coin” before deciding which restaurant to trust with your health.
It analysed almost 400 local authorities in the UK and, using the latest data they submitted to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), ranked them on how they are performing on food safety enforcement.
Enfield in London was revealed to be the poorest performing local authority with only 54% of its medium and high risk businesses meeting hygiene requirements.
The City Of Edinburgh was second to bottom, with five other London councils in the bottom 10 (Lewisham, Ealing, Harrow, Camden and Brent).
Cherwell District Council in North Oxfordshire was rated as the best performing local authority for a second year running, while Newark and Sherwood was the most improved local authority. Fylde Borough Council deteriorated the most.
Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which!, said that while businesses are ultimately responsible for complying with hygiene rules, local authorities are tasked with enforcing compliance.
“Consumers expect local authorities to check that food businesses in their area comply with hygiene standards and rigorously enforce the rules. Local authorities should do more to make the best use of limited resources, respond effectively to risks across the food supply chain and ensure consumers are adequately protected wherever they live.”
Top 10 best performing local authorities on food enforcement
1. Cherwell (best)
4. Basingstoke and Deane
9. High Peak
10. Weymouth and Portland
Top 10 worst performing local authorities on food enforcement
1. Enfield (worst)
2. City of Edinburgh
6. Perth and Kinross