If you run a business that makes or prepares food, it will be inspected to make sure you are following food law. There are a number of reasons:

  • to identify any hazards and to assess any public health risks arising from the food business
  • to assess management controls of food production and their effectiveness
  • to identify if legislation is being followed
  • to offer advice and guidance on good hygiene practices

How often will my premises be inspected?

This depends on the risk rating given to the premises. The risk rating is based on scores given in a number of areas:

  • the size of production and type of food being handled
  • the number of customers served and how vulnerable they are
  • the standards of repair, cleanliness and food hygiene
  • the history of compliance with the law

The interval between inspections varies from six months to three years and is determined by the risk that the food activities pose to the public. 

Who will visit and when?

  • Inspections are carried out by our qualified officers who have suitable training and experience.
  • We will not normally make an appointment and will occasionally visit outside normal office hours, especially if the business only runs in the evenings or at weekends.
  • Our authorised Officers have a legal right of entry to the premises at all reasonable times, and you must not refuse to let them in.
  • We carry photo identification and will be able to show it on demand.

Refusing entry to an inspector is a criminal offence. 

The Inspection

When we come into the premises, we will tell you who we are and explain why we are visiting. It will normally be for a routine food hygiene inspection or as the result of a complaint.

During the inspection we will:

  • talk to the food business operator and the staff about training and normal food preparation practices;
  • examine records such as temperature, cleaning or pest control;
  • examine the food safety management system documentation;
  • observe normal operational procedures;
  • fully inspect the premises, including equipment;
  • take hot and cold temperatures using our own thermometer.

If necessary, we may:

  • detain or seize food;
  • issue an 'hygiene emergency prohibition notice', closing down the premises, if there is an imminent risk to public health;
  •  prosecute if legal contraventions are serious. The courts may impose prohibitions, fines or imprisonment, on conviction.

Our Officers work to a common standard and will comply with requirements of the Codes of Practice issued by the Food Standards Agency  Opens in a new window , and with any other recognised guidance.

After the inspection we will:

  • Discuss what has been found and will give the food business operator or manager a hand-written report. Where appropriate, this will detail any problems found and what needs to be done to fix them.
  • If the problems are more extensive or substantial, a letter will be sent instead stating what needs to be done.
  • If the food business operator has already been told about the need to carry out works but has not completed them, then a legal notice, such as a 'hygiene improvement notice' may be served.
  • The food business operator must complete the works listed in a 'hygiene improvement notice' within the time allowed, or face prosecution.
  • The business may also be allocated a public rating under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme