Food Safety Standards and Enforcement

Food Business Inspections

We carry out regular checks of all food premises to make sure you are protected, and high standards are maintained.

Officers have a right to enter and inspect premises at all reasonable hours. They do not have to make an appointment and will usually visit without advance notice.

They will look at the way the business is operated, identify potential hazards and make sure it complies with the law. They will discuss any problems and advise on possible solutions.

Who will visit and why?

Food Premises can be inspected by Food Safety Specialist without appointments or prior notice.

The Food Safety Specialist will:

  • Give advice and guidance on food hygiene
  • Identify contraventions of legislation
  • Assess management controls of food production
  • Identify hazards and public health risks

During the visit

The Food Safety Specialist will:

  • Fully inspect the premises and equipment
  • Look at the normal daily operation of the business
  • Look at the food safety management system records, and other relevant records
  • Discuss food preparation practices with the food business operator and staff
  • Make recommendations if any improvements are needed.

What if problems are found?

Depending on the circumstances, the Food Safety Specialist might:

  • Offer verbal advice
  • Send a letter or an informal notice
  • Serve a formal notice
  • Close the premises.

If improvements are recommended, appropriate timescales will be given, and follow-up visits may be made.

How often are food businesses inspected?

It depends on the risk rating of the food business. Ratings are based on the type of business, type of food, number of potential customers, are customers in a high risk group (e.g. elderly residents of a nursing home), and other factors.

High risk premises are inspected every six months, low risk premises could be inspected every three years.

As a result of an inspection the premises will be risk rated and a star rating awarded under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.

For further information please see the Food Standards Agency Publications page.