Authorities in Scotland’s two biggest cities have been singled out by a leading consumers’ association as among the worst offenders in the UK for monitoring food hygiene standards.
The City of Edinburgh Council has been named the worst performing local authority in Scotland, and the eighth worst anywhere in the UK, according to the Which? study.
The watchdog assessed the rigour with which nearly 400 councils ensure local businesses comply with hygiene rules, using data submitted to Food Standards Scotland and the Food Standards Agency.
It found that in Edinburgh, just six out of ten (60 per cent) medium- or high-risk premises met compliance levels for food safety, with 87 per cent of the thousands of establishments across the city rated for risk, putting it in 379th place out of 386 councils in the UK, according to Which?’s analysis In the Glasgow City Council area, some 72 per cent of medium- or high-risk premises passed compliance standards, with 82 per cent of establishments rated for risk. It placed 376th in the ranking of local authorities.
Elsewhere, a further five local authority areas in Scotland – Aberdeen, Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Moray, and Perth and Kinross – placed in the bottom 10 per cent across UK. In Falkirk, just 57 per cent of medium- and high-risk businesses were found to have passed compliance levels.
With food hygiene heavily underpinned by EU regulations, Which? has warned of the need for a “comprehensive” enforcement strategy post-Brexit.
Alex Neill, Which?’s 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.”
The City of Edinburgh Council said: “The council’s environmental health team robustly inspect and assess food premises, providing written advice and guidance on what they must improve in order to achieve a pass.
“The council does not accept that the database was designed to rank authorities in the way suggested. Many non compliances used to achieve this ‘ranking’ are often technical in nature which in no way puts the public at risk.”
A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said it took a “risk-based approach,” targeting resources to food businesses with the “highest risk.”
She added: “Urban authorities face particular challenges, dealing with a far greater number and turnover of food businesses. This is particularly true in Glasgow, which is Scotland’s largest authority.”