Visits to food businesses are carried out without prior notification. Higher risk businesses are visited more frequently than lower risk.
Why are inspections carried out?
- To ensure that food is being handled and produced hygienically
- To ensure that food is safe to eat
- To look at the potential risk of food poisoning as a result of food contamination
- To ensure that food handling staff are trained in food hygiene
- To inspect the condition of the premises and equipment
- To ensure there are precautions to prevent pest infestation
- To ensure that staff are aware of the importance of personal hygiene
- In addition to our regular inspections, we also respond to food complaints from the public.
What happens during an inspection visit?
We will take samples, photographs and inspect records and take food we suspect is unsafe. As a result, we may recommend prosecution or impose prohibitions on the business, process or equipment. If the public are at risk, we will serve a hygiene emergency prohibition notice, which effectively closes your establishment down.
We will make recommendations for improvement and discuss timescales within which you must complete the work and give you details of any follow up visits to check on your progress.
What powers do Environmental Health Officers possess?
Officers have a right to enter and inspect premises at all reasonable hours, without an appointment, and will usually visit without advance notice. Every attempt will be made to resolve a situation by informal means, but if it is necessary to protect the public, officers will resort to formal action:
- Take samples, photographs and inspect records
- Detain or seize suspect food
- Serve Hygiene Improvement Notices where breaches of the law are identified
- Prosecute the business if the case is serious
- In extreme cases, closure of the business.