Brent has one of the highest numbers of dirty restaurants
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Brent has one of the highest numbers of dirty restaurants in the country according to a study released today.
The borough came tenth in a shame list of local authorities with the most eateries that fall well below basic food hygiene requirements according to consumer magazine Which?
Enfield in north London was the worst performing local authority, with just 54 per cent of its medium and high-risk businesses meeting hygiene requirements.
The City of Edinburgh ranked only just above Enfield while Brent and four other London councils - Lewisham, Ealing, Harrow and Camden – feature in the bottom 10.
Cherwell District Council in north Oxfordshire was rated the best performing local authority for the second year running.
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Compared to last year, Newark and Sherwood is the most improved local authority for food hygiene while Fylde Borough Council deteriorated the most.
The consumer group compiled its ranking after looking at the latest data submitted by 398 UK local authorities to the Food Standards Agency.
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It looked at three criteria - the proportion of premises ranked as high or medium risk in a local authority that were compliant with food hygiene requirements, the percentage of premises that had been rated for risk, and the proportion of inspections and other follow ups that were carried out by local authority inspectors.
A business should be given a risk rating when it opens from A, or high risk, to E, or low risk, which is determined by factors such as the type of establishment, how many people it serves and the competence of the management.
The rating determines how often the premises are inspected, with highest-risk premises visited every six months and those considered the lowest risk visited every five years.
Businesses are ultimately responsible for complying with hygiene rules but local authorities are tasked with enforcing compliance.
A survey by the watchdog to coincide with the study found 96 per cent of people think it is important that local authorities ensure compliance with food hygiene rules.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Our research reveals a shocking postcode lottery on food hygiene where in some places you may as well toss a coin before deciding which restaurant to trust with your health.
“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.”
Cllr George Crane, Brent Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “The Food Standards Agency assessed our food safety service in July 2014 and found that the service was well-run with high standards displayed by our staff, but was under-resourced.
“Despite huge cuts to council budgets from central government, Brent’s food safety team has recruited additional staff to carry out more inspections.
“We accept that we may need more inspectors, but can’t see how this can be achieved as Government cuts continue to bite.
“We are however keeping our progress under careful review and will consider whether further changes are needed in spring 2015.”
Which? has produced a map which shows all the local authorities and how they are ranked in the UK, which can be found at consumerinsight.which.co.uk/maps/hygiene.
Populus surveyed 2,791 adults online between January 14-15.