Birmingham topped the list of local authorities with poor food hygiene according to consumer watchdog Which? but the city council has denied that the city has a poor record, saying that it has only marginally fewer food outlets than the whole of Cornwall and has an active food hygiene regime.
The survey looked at areas including the number of high and medium-risk food businesses which kept to hygiene standards and the number of interventions carried out. It collected data from 390 local authorities for 2016-17, including information from the Local Authority Monitoring System collected by the Food Standards Agency.
Birmingham City Council showed up as having a poor record for carrying out inspections within 28 days of a food business opening, with 16 per cent of the city’s food businesses having no rating at all yet. The survey also showed that 43 per cent of the city’s high and medium-risk food businesses did not comply with hygiene standards.
Of the city’s 8,341 food businesses (compared to 8652 in the whole of Cornwall), of those that had been rated:
- 4,535 were rated as five or four (very good or good)
- 539 were satisfactory
- 793 needed improvement, often major
- 100 had a zero rating, needing urgent improvement
Mark Croxford of Birmingham City Council said that Which?’s data showed that the council had 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.
Laura Shirley, food safety and hygiene specialist with Harrison Clark Rickerbys’ regulatory team, said: “There’s no doubt that Birmingham has a significant number of food businesses, which will present the local authority with a challenge. Making sure that businesses comply with the law to protect customers and staff is essential, as is approaching the process reasonably so that customers benefit and businesses can thrive.”