Cane rats and "shocking" quantities of illegal and "potentially unsafe" meat have been sold to the public in east London, a BBC London undercover investigation has found.
West African and environmental health officer sources told the BBC the Ridley Road Market, in Dalston, was a known hotbed of illicit meat activity, including sales of illegal "smokies", a delicacy made by charring sheep or goat with a blow torch.
Yet a Freedom of Information request to Hackney Council reveals the last enforcement visits to premises concerning illegal meat in the whole borough took place in 2009.
Secret filming in one of the capital's busiest food markets has revealed butchers and food stores prepared to sell large quantities of meat that break food safety laws.
It is disgusting and outrageous that the local authorities don't take action” Dr Yunes Teinaz Environmental health expert
"This is shocking, I am just so shocked to see so much of it," said Paul Povey, one of the UK's leading experts in meat hygiene and inspections and a member of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, who examined the meat for the BBC.
"It's all illegal and hasn't undergone health control, hasn't been inspected and may well be contaminated.
"You've got to wonder about the contamination level of this meat that anyone's bringing into their kitchens."
Hackney Council said it had only received one complaint of illegal meat being sold since 2009 which was not proven.