England’s second biggest city joined Hyndburn in Lancashire at the bottom of a table of local authority on cleanliness standards, compiled by consumer group Which? for the second year running.
But Birmingham City Council hit back at the research, saying food hygiene standards were “no reflection” of its performance. Hyndburn Council described the findings as “out of date”.
The study collated data for medium and high-risk food establishments like takeaways and restaurants, as well as the number of official interventions carried out over the past year.
The London boroughs of Camden and Croydon came third and fourth respectively, while the Isles of Scilly came fifth.
Falkirk, Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland were in sixth, seventh and eighth place respectively.
London boroughs Lewisham and Waltham Forest placed ninth and tenth.
Bottom 10 local authorities are:
- Isles of Scilly
- Waltham Forest
Top 10 local authorities are:
- Basingstoke and Deane
- North Dorset
- South Kesteven
- West Dorset
- Staffordshire and Moorlands
- Orkney Islands
Which?’s Alex Neill said: “When it comes to food, British consumers expect the very best standards for themselves and their families.
“But our enforcement regime is under huge strain, just as Brexit threatens to add to the responsibilities of struggling local authorities.
“Effective food enforcement must be a Government priority, including robust checks on imports as well as co-operation with the EU and other countries on food risks”.
Hyndburn Council, which covers an area including Accrington, did not respond to a request for comment.
Mark Croxford, Head of Environmental Health at Birmingham City Council, said: “The quality of food businesses in Birmingham is not a measure or reflection of the council’s performance. I am surprised and disappointed to see Which? have made the same mistake as they have done in previous years, in failing to engage with local authorities to produce a meaningful report.”
Croxford added: “It is apparent – using the same LAEMS (Local Authority Enforcement Monitoring System) data available to Which? – that Birmingham City Council’s Environmental Health team have: inspected the second highest number of premises; undertaken more prosecutions; closed more food premises; and suspended more approved manufacturers than any other English local authority in 2016/17.”
“Where there are problems, [we] deal with them robustly and keep people safe,” he said.
Cllr Paul Cox, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Deputy Leader of Hyndburn Council, said; “This is not a true reflection of the current picture in Hyndburn as the statistics used by Which are historic and now 13 months out of date.
“We’ve completed 100% of inspections for the past two years and our most recently submitted figures to the [Food Standards Agency] for 17/18 shows the true picture that 92.5% of food businesses in Hyndburn are compliant in accordance with the Food Standards Agency Food Hygiene Ratings Scheme and only 3 businesses were unrated, but have since been rated within the permitted 28 days timescale.”