The food and safety team has the legal responsibility to inspect all food businesses throughout the district on a regular basis, to ensure that the requirements of food safety legislation are met.
Visits are usually undertaken without warning. The frequency of visits is generally between six months and two years, depending on the risks present at the premises. High risks may be due to the standard of food hygiene which exists at the premises, in which case enforcement officers will attempt to improve conditions informally or by exercising their statutory powers. However, the risks may be due to the inherent nature of the business and have nothing to do with the standards of hygiene (for example, customers may be particularly vulnerable to illness, as in some residential care homes).
During these inspections checks are made to establish how well each business is controlling the risks to food safety and complying with food safety law. The inspection can include the following procedures:
- reviewing the records held on the council's files
- discussing the scope of the inspection with the food business operator or their representative
- discussing any changes to the food business since the last inspection
- a visual inspection of the premises to assess all food-related activities carried out, including preparation, production and storage of food products
- using temperature monitoring equipment to assess the storage conditions for chilled and frozen food
- interviewing staff concerning their specific responsibilities, to assess whether they understand their duties
- taking food samples and swabbing work surfaces to assess hygiene
- discussing the findings of the inspection, including any recommendations which the officer makes
- if contraventions have been noted, informing the food business operator (or their representative) of the defects and requiring remedial action (including a discussion of the timescales involved).
A report will be given to the food business operator (or their representative) at the conclusion of the inspection, and/or a letter will be sent listing the contraventions and itemising any recommendations concerning good practice.
The powers which can be used by officers and the council range from giving advice to the business to prosecution. It must be noted that, while officers will give general advice, food business operators may need to employ a specialist to give detailed assistance concerning food safety.
For more information about enforcement, including the use of simple cautions and prosecution, see the council's food safety enforcement policy. This can be downloaded from the right of the page.
Last reviewed: 14 - 08 - 2012