|Ealing Council 'Named and Shamed'|
One of worst performing authorities on food safety issues
We regularly report on restaurants and takeaways taken to court for breaches of health and safety, but it seems Ealing Council is also not coming up to scratch.
An investigation into 395 local authorities by Which? (from research obtained from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) ) has placed Ealing at number two in a list of worst performing.
Which? found that in some areas of the country more than one in three of high and medium risk food businesses aren’t complying with food hygiene requirements. They say work to check food standards, such as the accuracy of food labels, is particularly patchy.
The 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.
The study also revealed that overall, food testing fell by 6.8% from the previous year, while testing for correct labelling and presentation fell 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 said councils were "working hard" to improve food hygiene standards in the face of government funding cuts.
Cllr David Millican, Conservative Group Leader said:“Whilst the public will no doubt welcome the authoritative study by Which?, they will nevertheless be appalled to note that Ealing was the 2nd worst performing authority for food hygiene.
''A year on from the horsemeat scandal, it is dreadful to know that food hygiene in the borough is clearly an issue.
''Residents need to have confidence in the food they are eating. The Labour Administration should be prioritising enforcement in this area and across the board rather than spending the money on expensive iPads and gadgets for staff and senior Councillors.”
Liberal Democrat MEP for London Sarah Ludford commented: “I’m deeply concerned that London boroughs including Ealing account for six of the ten worst-performing local authorities in the country when it comes to food hygiene.”
“Consumers rightly want to know what's in their food and where ingredients come from.”
“In order to tackle food fraud effectively, we must keep a close eye on increasingly international food supply chains. This is an area where concerted EU action has the clear edge over the chaos of 28 different sets of national rules.”
“We must work closely with our European partners to tighten up rules and controls so that we can trace the origin and provenance of food products. There should also be stronger penalties across the EU for food fraud in order to help hold manufacturers to account.”
A spokeswoman for Ealing Council said: “Ealing has one of the highest numbers of food premises in London with more than 3,200 establishments including large food manufacturers, restaurants, cafes and shops. It is unfortunate that we are being compared to authorities with far fewer food premises, including boroughs with a very different profile of complex food businesses. Public safety is our priority and since last April we have carried out more than 1,200 inspections on the highest risk premises in the borough. The team is also being expanded to inspect the growing number of food businesses.
“We have a strong environmental health team who do not hesitate to take enforcement action where we see a risk to the public and won’t hesitate to name and shame businesses which flout the law. Since last April we have issued 18 emergency closure orders on businesses – shutting them until we are satisfied they do not pose a risk to the public, and secured compliance in many more through advice, education and enforcement.”
The 10 worst-performing local authorities according to the research are:
4. West Dunbartonshire
14th January 2014