Spiralling food prices are being blamed for the biggest leap in annual inflation since records began.

Annual inflation measured by the consumer prices index (CPI) rose to 4.4% in July, up from 3.8% in June, reveal the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The 0.6% leap in the annual rate is the highest change since records began in 1997.

It means annual inflation is now twice the rate of the government’s target of 2.2%.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages

The largest upward pressure came from food and non-alcoholic beverages which rose from an annual rate of 9.5 % in June, to 12.3 % in July.

Food inflation alone has spiralled to a CPI record 13.7 % on the year, up from 10.6 % in June.

As in the previous month, this was principally due to a rise in meat costs, particularly bacon, ham and poultry.

Meat rose to 16.3 % year on year, up from 11.2 % in June.

Bread and vegetables

There were also increases in bread and cereals and vegetables including potatoes.

Breads and cereals saw an increase of 15.9 % on the year, up from 11.9 % in June.

Vegetables, including potatoes, shot up to 11.1 % up from 7.4 %.

An internationally comparable measure, the CPI shows that the UK inflation rate of 3.8% in June was below the provisional rate of 4.3% for the European Union as a whole.

Inflation

Inflation measured by the Retail Prices Index (RPI) rose to 5% from 4.6%.

UK petrol prices at the pumps increased by 1.2 pence per litre between June and July this year, to stand at 118.8 pence, compared with a fall of 0.4 pence last year.

Diesel prices rose by 1.8 pence per litre this year to stand at 132.3 pence per litre, compared with a fall of 0.4 pence last year.

Air passenger transport was a significant contributor too, rising from 5.4 % year on year in June to 8.9 % in July.

Fares rose by more than last year particularly on European routes.

Electricity, gas and other fuels saw an increase in the annual rate from 13.8 % to 16.1 %.

Gas and electricity bills were unchanged this year but fell a year ago.