Waltham Forest labelled worst in London for food hygiene

Waltham Forest is accused of having the “poorest food hygiene in London” – despite more than half the borough’s businesses having the best hygiene rating possible.

A report published on Wednesday notes 13.2 per cent of the borough’s food businesses have a hygiene rating of two or less out of five, the highest percentage in London.

The report compares this to London’s alleged best borough for food hygiene, Kensington & Chelsea, where less than one per cent of businesses were rated two or lower.

However, Waltham Forest Council’s deputy leader Clyde Loakes argues the reason many of the borough’s businesses have room to improve is precisely because the council “takes food hygiene and the safety of consumers very seriously”.

He said: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Food Standards Agency released guidance that it would allow virtual inspections, which many local authorities have used.

“However, in Waltham Forest we have maintained face-to-face inspections throughout the last year that allow for a more in-depth look at how a business is being run, especially looking at takeaways that many people used while working at home or isolating.

“The vast majority of food businesses in Waltham Forest are maintained to a high standard and take their responsibilities seriously. We will not hesitate to take action against the minority who do not.”

Since the start of last year, the council has inspected more than half of the borough’s eligible food businesses. There are only 55 new businesses still waiting for their first inspection.

So far this year, Waltham Forest Council has prosecuted nine businesses for poor food hygiene.

On August 2, since-closed Chinese supermarket Hoo Hing, in Staffa Road, Leyton, was fined more than £63,000 by Stratford Magistrates Court after officers discovered a “severe mouse infestation”.

Speaking at the time, a council spokesperson said: “It was obvious to anyone that saw the kitchens that there was and had been a major mouse problem for some time.

“It was simply inexcusable for the staff and managers to ignore it and put people’s health at risk.”

Overall, while 54 businesses have received the lowest possible hygiene rating of zero, meaning urgent improvement is needed, more than half of the borough’s businesses have the highest possible rating of five.

You can check the hygiene rating of any of the borough’s food businesses here: https://ratings.food.gov.uk/authority-search/en-GB/%5E/%5E/Relevance/0/531/%5E/0/1/10

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter