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Find out about food business inspections

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Environmental health and trading standards officers have the right to enter and inspect food premises. They do not have to make an appointment and they will usually come without warning. They may visit as a result of a complaint. How often inspections happen depend on the potential risk posed by the type of business and its previous inspection. 

Their inspection is: 

  • to establish whether food is being handled and made hygienically
  • to establish whether food is, or will be safe to eat
  • to identify potential incidences of food poisoning

What will the inspectors do when they visit?

Most businesses want to comply with the law and we will give free advice and guidance so business' can meet legal obligations without added expense. However inspectors do have powers that they can use when they think it necessary to do so, which include the following:

  • take photographs, inspect records, take food samples
  • write to you informally, asking you to put right any problems
  • serve a Hygiene Improvement Notice for issues of non-compliance with the law, which will also outline the things to be done in order to comply
  • detain or seize suspect foods
  • serve a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice that prohibits the use of premises or equipment. Note: this must be approved by a court
  • in serious cases, recommend a prosecution

What can you expect from the inspectors?

  • a polite manner
  • to be shown identification
  • feedback from any inspections
  • to be given the reasons in writing for any action you are asked to take
  • where there is a breach of the law, a statement of what that law is
  • reasonable time to make changes, except where there is a risk to public health
  • to be told the procedures for appealing against Local Authority action

What can you do if you do not agree with the inspector's action?

If you do not agree with the action taken by an inspector, you should contact the Regulatory Services Manager to see if the problem can be resolved informally. If you are still unhappy with the outcome, you may approach your local Councillor.

Further guidance

 Further information and guidance (opens new window)