BEXLEY has been named and shamed by a consumer watchdog as the worst-performing local authority for ensuring local restaurants and takeaways comply with hygiene rules.

A Which? investigation into 395 local authorities using data submitted to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) found Bexley was the worst with more than 80 per cent of businesses rated for risk.

The figures showed no hygiene sampling at all was carried out by Bexley.

Local authority rankings were based upon criteria such as the number of premises compliant with hygiene requirements, the number of visits performed by council inspectors and the percentage of premises yet to receive a risk rating.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: "No one wants another horsemeat fiasco, so it is very worrying that local authority food checks are in decline.

"We want to see a more strategic approach to food law enforcement that makes the best use of limited resources and responds effectively to the huge challenges facing the food supply chain."

But the council has hit back at the survey's results and claims they are inaccurate and out-of-date.

A council spokesman said: "We are disgusted that 'Which?' are claiming that the London Borough of Bexley is 'struggling to ensure that their local businesses comply with hygiene rules' and that no official food sampling has been carried out in Bexley.

"When the Food Safety Hygiene rating scheme started in Bexley in April 1, 2012 we took the decision to focus our resources on rating higher risk food premises, such as takeaways and fast food premises to protect residents. These are the sorts of establishments we thought could be in danger of a low rating and which might need a spur to improve.

"The latest figures are showing an improvement in overall ratings as we bring more premises into the scheme."

The council said official food sampling was carried in 2012/13 and 47 samples were taken.

"We take our food safety role extremely seriously in Bexley, but would state that it is ultimately the businesses themselves who are responsible for complying with food safety law."