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Food inspections

Officers from Environmental Health carry out regular inspections of all food premises trading within the district to ensure that the public is protected; that high standards of food hygiene are maintained and ultimately that food is safe to eat.

All businesses that manufacture, pack, store, supply or sell food (including drink) will be subject to an inspection.

If a business makes, prepares or handles food of animal origin (e.g. meat, fish or dairy) for supply to other businesses, then the food business and its activities in most circumstances will require what is known as approval. View more information on food premises approval.

How often are these inspections undertaken?

This varies depending on a number of things including:

  • type of food prepared at the premises
  • the number of customers supplied
  • the track record of the business
  • confidence in management
  • compliance with food hygiene and safety procedures (food handling practices)
  • structural repair and cleaning.

The frequency of routine inspections can range from a minimum of every 6 months to 5 years. 

Revisits may also be made in between these routine inspections to check that any works required have been completed to a satisfactory standard.

What happens during an inspection?

Officers from Environmental Health have a right to enter the premises at any reasonable time with or without prior notice; or when they suspect there may be a particular problem. Occasionally, we may make appointments for visits, particularly for home caterers. When officers call they will show you their identification and authorisation, which you are entitled to see.

Officers are entitled to assistance and to have their questions answered. During the visit they are legally entitled to talk to employees, take samples, photographs and if necessary seize or detain food. Obstructing a food safety officer is an offence.

Visit the Food Standards Agency website for more information on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) or visit the Food Standards Agency website for more information on Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) if an officer asks to see documentation on HACCP or SFBB, temperature records, training records, pest control records or cleaning schedules etc, which should be kept available at the premises for inspection.

At the end of the inspection

The officer will inform you of their findings and what further action, if any, they will be taking and what you need to do. They will discuss with you the time allowed for complying with the law. Generally, you will be given a reasonable period of time to improve standards although some requirements may demand your immediate attention. A report of the inspection will be left on site at the time.

Following the inspection

The officer has several options available:

  • they may write to you informally asking you to put right any problems they find or with advice
  • when breaches of the law are identified, which must be put right, officers have the power to serve a Hygiene Improvement Notice
  • officers can detain or seize suspect food
  • in serious cases, officers may decide to recommend a prosecution: if the prosecution is successful the Court may impose prohibitions on processes, the use of the premises or equipment, as well as fines and possibly imprisonment
  • if there is an imminent health risk to consumers, officers can serve a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice which immediately forbids the use of the premises or equipment, such a notice must subsequently be confirmed by the Court.

Food businesses within the Borough have been scored on the Food Standards Agency's National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. Visit the Food Standards Agency website to view the published scores.

Last updated: 24/08/2023 11:19

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