Ealing Council has hit back over claims that it is one of the worst in the country at enforcing food hygiene standards.
Which? Magazine published a survey which said that Ealing was the second worst authority in the country at undertaking the required number of inspections at food businesses. The worst was Bexley, but also in the top ten were other London boroughs including Enfield, Harrow, Richmond-upon-Thames and Southwark.
The council said Ealing has one of the highest numbers of food premises in London with more than 3,200 establishments, including large food manufacturers, restaurants, cafes and shops. It said it had carried out more than 1,200 inspections on the highest risk premises since last April and would be expanding the team.
A spokeswoman said: "It is unfortunate that we are being compared to authorities with far fewer food premises, including boroughs with a very different profile of complex food businesses. Public safety is our priority.
"We have a strong environmental health team which does not hesitate to take enforcement action where we see a risk to the public and won’t hesitate to name and shame businesses which flout the law. Since last April we have issued 18 emergency closure orders on businesses – shutting them until we are satisfied they do not pose a risk to the public, and secured compliance in many more through advice, education and enforcement.”
Hygiene officers also carry out tests for dangerous bacteria and food fraud, and 11 samples of meat were tested in the borough following the 2013 horse meat scandal, as part of a national testing exercise lead by the Food Standards Agency.
Ealing Conservatives said the Labour-run council had been 'named and shamed' by Which?.
Tory group leader, Cllr David Millican said: "Whilst the public will no doubt welcome the authoritative study by Which?, they will nevertheless be appalled to note that Ealing was the second worst performing authority for food hygiene. A year on from the horsemeat scandal, it is dreadful to know that food hygiene in the borough is clearly an issue.
"Re sidents need to have confidence in the food they are eating. The Labour Administration should be prioritising enforcement in this area and across the board rather than spending the money on expensive iPads and gadgets for staff and senior Councillors."
Ealing Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr Gary Malcolm said: “The Liberal Democrats are deeply concerned that Ealing is one of the worst Councils in the country for food hygiene. Dodgy food can kill! We expect better."
If you have concerns about hygiene at any Ealing food outlets, call the council’s food safety team on 020 8825 6666 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.