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Which? reveals the areas with the worst food hygiene

How safe is it to eat out in your local area?

Which? reveals the areas with the worst food hygiene

One in every five eateries in the UK doesn’t meet food hygiene standards, Which? analysis of food safety enforcement data reveals.

In the worst local authority, two out of three food establishments could be putting you at risk of food poisoning.

Food hygiene compliance is patchy and varies hugely across the UK, and although it is ultimately the business’ responsibility to comply with hygiene laws, some local authorities are struggling to enforce standards.

We’ve put together an interactive map so you can check whether your local authority is making sure that its food establishments comply with food hygiene law.

Best local authorities for food hygiene

Erewash, in Derbyshire, tops our table as the local authority with the best food hygiene enforcement stats, followed by Eden in Cumbria and Brentwood in Essex.

The table below shows the 10 highest-ranking local authorities for food hygiene enforcement, out of 386 local authorities analysed.

Rank Local Authority
1 Erewash
2 Eden
3 Brentwood
4 West Dorset
5 Sunderland
6 Basingstoke and Deane
7 Orkney Islands
8 North Dorset
9 North Devon
10 Hartlepool

Worst local authorities for food hygiene

At the bottom end of the table, Hyndburn in Lancashire has the lowest ranking. Only one third of eateries in Hyndburn that were high-risk or medium-risk actually met hygiene standards.

The hygiene risk of a business is based on several factors, including type of food, the number/type of consumers at risk, method of processing or handling food and confidence in the management.

Birmingham was second from bottom, with only 59% of medium- to high-risk businesses found to be broadly compliant with hygiene rules.

Birmingham City Council told us that it is not responsible for a third party complying with the law, but that it is responsible for enforcing the law where failures are found.

Cities with lots of food businesses can struggle to keep up with food hygiene enforcement because of the high turnover of places to eat.

The table below shows the 10 lowest-ranking local authorities for food hygiene in the UK.

Rank Local Authority
386 Hyndburn
385 Birmingham
384 Newham
383 Ealing
382 Lewisham
381 Camden
380 Bristol (city)
379 Edinburgh
378 Isles of Scilly
377 Manchester


How we ranked local authorities

We assessed data submitted to the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland by 386 UK local authorities in 2015-16.

We then ranked those local authority areas based on three indicators: how many food establishments were rated for risk, how many of the medium and high-risk premises met hygiene requirements, and how many planned interventions (such as inspections or follow up actions) were actually carried out.

For more on how we collected this information, and our recommendations for food standards in the UK, see our full report on food law enforcement.

Food safety in the UK

Budget cuts at local authorities, complicated international food supply chains and an increase in food crime can make it more difficult to enforce good food hygiene.

Leaving the EU is likely to mean that the UK will have to conduct more of its own safety checks on imported food, which will require more resources and a new approach to food standards checking.

The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland are currently reviewing their food enforcement strategies.

We are concerned, though, that the proposed reforms could see more inspections carried out by third-party companies employed by businesses, instead of the checks being done by public authorities.

We think it’s more important than ever that food safety is independently assessed.

Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Services, said: “People expect their food to be safe, but there is clearly still work to be done.

“As we prepare to leave the EU, the government and regulators need to ensure that there is a robust, independent system of enforcement in place ​​to give people ​confidence that ​the food they’re eating is hygienic.”

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