Local authorities falling behind on food hygiene inspections

Laura Mintram 2015 avatar

Laura Mintram
Senior Consultant, Assurity Consulting
12th November 2019

In a recent edition of Environmental Health News (EHN) a story was published about an infestation of mice found in a convenience store in the West Midlands following a routine inspection. The owners were completely unaware of the problem. The Environmental Health Officer (EHO) commented that mouse droppings were found throughout the premises, including on open fruit and vegetables and behind equipment. Several live mice were caught during subsequent pest-control treatment once the shop had been temporarily closed down.

Cases such as this one highlight the importance of routine inspections of food businesses, which is why I was concerned to read in the same magazine that more than 50,000 food hygiene checks were outstanding in 2017-2018, according to an Unchecked UK campaign. Only 11% of councils had carried out all planned food checks on time and eight local authorities missed more than 1,000 local food business inspections.

Some of the most concerning findings were from the highest risk businesses. These include those with a poor track record on hygiene, larger-scale premises that handle raw meat or fish and businesses serving children or the elderly. In England 81% of the 1,605 A-rated premises (highest risk) and 37% of the 18,889 B-rated premises failed to meet basic food hygiene standards, scoring 1 or 2 on the food hygiene rating scheme. Unfortunately, their customers would be unaware of the poor food hygiene conditions as it is not mandatory to display food hygiene ratings in England.

As can be seen from the above, many local authorities are struggling to complete their food hygiene inspections. This is something I have noticed amongst our customers. Some that are catering for hundreds of people every day have not been inspected for over 5 years and so they have taken it upon themselves to use our team of food safety consultants to ensure they are visited by an independent expert who can confirm they continue to provide safe food in hygienic conditions. If you would like to find out more about our food safety services, please call tel. 01403 269375 or email info@assurityconsulting.co.uk or visit our food safety management service page here for further information.