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Local Authority Food Inspections Struggling Under Financial Pressures
A new report by consumer organisation Which? has claimed that some local authorities are struggling to enforce food hygiene standards due to increased pressure on budgets.
Using data supplied by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) from 395 local authorities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the research found that food sampling rates fell by 6.8% and food standards interventions fell by 16.8% during the year 2012/13. There was also a 4.4% fall in microbiological testing in relation to alleged food poisoning incidents, despite the money for these being provided centrally by Public Health England.
Local Government Association spokesperson Nick Worth admitted that budget cuts had put many authorities in a difficult situation. “Councils are working hard to maintain and improve food safety standards despite the pressure that significant government funding cuts are placing on everyday services,” he said. “It is ultimately the responsibility of food manufacturers, retailers and suppliers to ensure the products they produce or sell comply fully with food law, are fit for consumption and won’t risk public safety.”
Which? rated each authority in the report by the percentage of high or medium risk premises that were broadly compliant with food hygiene requirements, the percentage of premises that were yet to receive a risk rating and the proportion of inspections and other follow-ups required that were actually undertaken. Ten councils were not included as full data from their areas wasn’t available.