Businesses are 'getting away' with selling meat and other products that are not what they appear to be, claims the Daily Mail.

These were the claims made by the newspaper in today's (October 25) paper. However, the council has hit back at the Mail for 'scare mongering over food hygiene sampling. The Council carried out nearly 800 food hygiene and standards inspections of local businesses in the last 12 months, despite Daily Mail claims.

Richmond Council have reassured residents that keeping the borough’s food premises clean and safe is a priority for the Council. Over the past year, the Environmental Health team have focused their efforts on the area that is needed most in Richmond upon Thames - hygiene inspections. In addition, to inspecting all high-risk food premises, the Council have also focused on many lower risk food premises that if left uninspected, could become high risk and pose a potential danger to public health.

In 2017/18, Environmental Health officers based in Richmond upon Thames carried out a total of 794 food hygiene and standards inspections of food businesses and investigated 119 complaints relating to food premises. During this time, there were no complaints relating to food sampling.

Cllr Martin Elengorn, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Making sure that our local businesses who provide food to customers are clean and hygienic is important to Richmond Council.

“Over the past year we have had over 100 complaints regarding concerns around hygiene and so this is where our efforts have focused. Of course, if we had received complaints around food sampling issues, these would have been investigated. But we didn’t. And for the Daily Mail to imply otherwise is just scare mongering and an irresponsible use of Freedom of Information and only telling half of the story.

“We always take breaches in food safety seriously and will continue to ensure that our local businesses also understand the seriousness of behaving in line with the rules.”