Bradford Council is the 16th worst local authority in the country for keeping on top of food hygiene enforcement, according to research issued by a consumer watchdog.
Which? looked at 395 local authorities in the UK and, using some of the latest data submitted to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), ranked how they are performing.
Bradford Council was ranked 380th, just 16 from the bottom of the table.
But the Council’s executive member for environment, Councillor Andrew Thornton, said Which? had selected only three sets of figures out of many more submitted to the FSA to compile its rankings.
He said the Council operated “very much a risk approach” focusing on businesses classed as high or medium risk.
Which? looked at the proportion of premises ranked as high or medium risk in a local authority that were broadly compliant with food hygiene requirements; the percentage of premises yet to receive a risk rating and the proportion of inspections and other follow-ups that were required but not carried out by inspectors.
Coun Thornton said: “They’ve take a very broad brush to how they’ve rated different local authorities in terms of inspections and interventions.
“In Bradford we operate very much a risk-based approach in which we target those premises most likely to cause problems.”
He said if the consumer organisation had chosen to look at interventions at medium and high-risk establishments, rather than including those classed as low risk as well, the Council would have performed better.
Coun Thornton said the Council carried out all the inspections needed at businesses identified as ‘high risk’ and inspected 86 per cent of those in the ‘medium risk’ group.
In 2012/13 – the year the research is based on – Bradford Council carried out 1,361 formal actions to make sure food outlets were up to standard.
Last year, the Council prosecuted 14 food businesses for breaches of regulations and 11 more cases are being processed.
A Which? spokesman said it would expect councils to visit all food establishments to check their risk rating. In the Bradford area, 90.3 per cent were visited.
Working out the hygiene risk includes looking at the type of food, the number and type of consumers at risk, how food is processed or handled and the confidence in the management.
The leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the Council, Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, said: “I’m not surprised that we have got a problem with food hygiene. We appear to have no policy whatsoever of controlling it and no political will to control it,” she said.
She said the Council could start to tackle the problem by allowing fewer takeaways to open.
The director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University, Belfast, Professor Chris Elliott said: “I think what the Which? report is indicating very clearly is that, because of the pressures that are on local authorities in relation to budget cuts, they are finding it very difficult to deliver the quality of service that is required.”
Earlier this week Prof Elliott told the Telegraph & Argus that inner-city areas like Bradford were more likely to be vulnerable to the supply of contaminated meat.