Inspections, Food Law and requirements for premises
The purpose of a food hygiene inspection is to
ensure that food sold to the public is safe to consume. There are
approximately 500 food businesses within the Borough and these will
be visited on a rotating basis, depending on the rate risk.
Additionally Food Safety Officers will visit many premises when
following up complaints, and will visit any new premises that open
in the Borough.
Food Safety Officers will not only ensure
that the structure, fittings and operators in food businesses do
not contaminate foodstuffs, but will also assess the risks involved
in storing, preparing and producing food. The most common
reasons for food poisoning occurring is food being prepared too far
in advance and being left at room temperature for too long or cross
Where there is an imminent risk to the
public’s health, Officers can issue Emergency Prohibition
Notices to prevent food businesses operating until such times as
they are considered safe.
Where an imminent risk does not exist, but
there are still problems to resolve the Officer may issue Hygiene
Improvement Notices which detail the works that need to be carried
out and provide a timescale for compliance. Failure to comply
with these notices will leave the business operator liable to
prosecution at the Magistrates’ Court.
How often do premises get inspected?
Food inspections are determined based on a
risk rating done at the last inspection. It could be as
frequent as every 6 months for higher risk premises, to every 3
years for those premises rated as low risk. The inspector
will provide a risk rating form after each inspection which
will indicate the applicable rating for the business.
Are inspections announced?
Inspectors have the right to enter and inspect
food premises at all reasonable hours. They do not have to make an
appointment and will usually come without notice.
The general principle about pre-notification
of inspections is set out in
European Regulation 882/2004 which states in Article 3(2) that
“official controls shall be carried out without prior warning,
except in cases such as audits where prior notification of the feed
or food business operator is necessary”. Prior notice of
an inspection would generally only be given therefore where
inspectors intended to carry out an audit and needed to ensure that
certain documentation, records and/or staff was
What will I get assessed on?
The inspection may vary depending on the type
of business you operate however the main criteria you will be
assessed on will be:
- The type of food you produce
- The number of consumers affected
- Food hygiene practices
- The standard of structure and cleaning in the premises
- Confidence in management – including training, record keeping
General Food Hygiene rules for food
(EC) 852/2004 lays down general rules of food hygiene for all
food business operators and sets down standards for structure,
maintenance, cleanliness and food handling practices. It states
that the primary responsibility for food safety rests with the food
Before implementing food safety procedures,
your business must meet the minimum standard set by food hygiene
rules. The rules you must follow are found in the chapters of
the above Regulation and are summarised below:
General requirements for food premises
Specific requirements for rooms where food is prepared, processed
Requirements for mobile businesses, food businesses run from
domestic premises and vending machines
Looking after food
10. Wrapping and
11. Heat processing of
Note: Most of the chapters apply to all
premises, though the heading clarifies this. Chapter III
applies only to temporary units such as market stalls
For details of the requirements under each of
these Chapters please see this summary.
Documented Food Safety Management System
In addition Article 5 of the Regulation requires food
business operators to implement and maintain permanent procedures
based on HACCP principles. This means that procedures must be in
place to ensure that food is produced safely and necessary
documents and records are established. HACCP is discussed here