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Food safety inspections and ratings

Find out about food premises inspections including how they are carried out, how often and what happens after an inspection.

We inspect any business that makes or prepares food. We check how well your food business is meeting standards. During an inspection we will:

  • look for any hazards
  • look for public health risks
  • check how you manage food safety
  • check how you handle food
  • see if food law is being followed
  • give advice and guidance on good hygiene

How often we inspect a business depends on the risk rating given to the premises. The risk rating comes from scores given in:

  • the size of production
  • the type of food
  • the number of customers served and how vulnerable they are
  • the condition and cleanliness of the premises
  • the standards of food hygiene
  • your scores in past inspections

The gap between inspections is anything from six months to three years.

Our officers

Qualified officers carry out the inspections. They have suitable training and experience.

We usually arrive unannounced. Sometimes we visit outside normal office hours. This can depend on the opening hours of the business

Our officers have a legal right of entry to the premises at all times. You must not refuse to let them in. Refusing entry is a criminal offence.

We carry photo ID and will always show it if you ask.

The inspection

When we arrive we will tell you who we are and why we are visiting. It will be for a routine food hygiene inspection or as the result of a complaint.

During the inspection we will:

  • ask you and your staff about training
  • watch normal food preparation
  • look at records that show information on temperature, cleaning and pest control
  • check the food safety management system documentation
  • inspect the premises, including equipment
  • take hot and cold temperatures using our own thermometer

We may:

  • take food as evidence
  • close you down if there is a risk to public health
  • prosecute you if the problems are serious

What happens next

After the inspection we will:

  • give you or the manager a report and have a chat about it. We can talk about any problems found and how to fix them
  • send a letter if the problems are serious. This will explain what you need to do
  • give businesses where people eat or buy food a food hygiene rating

If we have already visited and you have not fixed the previous problems we may serve a legal notice.

If we serve a legal notice you must complete the works we have listed. If you don't you may be prosecuted and the courts may:

  • ban you from running a food business (prohibition)
  • fine you
  • send you to prison