One in Five Eateries Failing to meet Food Hygiene Standards

By Chris Wagstaff
02 Feb 2024

A new investigation by the consumer group Which? has revealed that one in every five eateries in the UK does not meet food hygiene standards, with huge variations across the country and around 500,000 cases of food poisoning each year.

As the Food Standards Agency (FSA) undertakes a fundamental review of how the food enforcement system works, Which? analysed council data submitted to the FSA, ranking various areas. The lowest ranking local authority areas according to the analysis were as follows:

  • Hyndburn in Lancashire had the lowest ranking, with only 35% of its medium and high-risk businesses meeting acceptable hygiene standards. This is the area in which Megan Lee, a 15-year-old girl, recently died from anaphylactic shock after eating a curry from a takeaway described in reports as infested by mice.
  • Birmingham, with 8071 food businesses, was second from bottom overall, with only 59% of medium to high-risk businesses found to be broadly compliant with hygiene rules.
  • Four London local authority areas — Newham, Ealing, Lewisham and Camden — were all ranked in the bottom 10.

The highest ranking local authority areas according to the analysis included Erewash in Derbyshire and Sunderland which had the highest ranking Metropolitan Borough in England. Bexley is now ranked number one in London, despite being bottom of the UK-wide table four years ago.

Commenting on the research, Alex Neill, Managing Director of Home Services at Which?, 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.”

About the Author

Chris is the Director of Health and Safety at Croner. Chris is also CMIOSH accredited, an IOSH Mentor and HSE People Champion and has over 20 years working in Health & Safety.