Food safety enforcement in Waltham Forest is among the worst in the UK, research has found.

Research by consumer organisation Which? rated the council 344th out of 395 local authorities for effectiveness in tackling poor hygiene in shops, restaurants and takeaways.

Data submitted by councils to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) showed the number of business complying with regulations to protect the public, the percentage of new outlets which had not been given a risk rating and the number required inspections which were not carried out.

There are 1,903 food establishments in Waltham Forest, with 92.5 per cent rated for risk by the council while 73.9 of those rated as high or medium risk were found “broadly compliant” with regulations.

In November fast-food takeaway QFC in Wood Street, Walthamstow, which was described by a council inspector as “the filthiest premises I have seen in a long time” was re-opened one week after being shut down to protect the public.

In August Aadams Bagel Bakery in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, was closed by officers for the second time in nine months after rats and mice were discovered on site.

Across the UK, the number of food safety checks carried out by councils fell in 2013 and one in 10 did no tests ensuring products contained what is stated on the label, researchers found.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “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 supply chain.”

The council has been contacted for comment.