Food safety inspections and sampling
We inspect all food businesses that produce, prepare and supply food to the public.
How often a food business is inspected will depend on the type of food handled, how the business is managed, the condition of the premises and if we have received any complaints.
We have the right to enter a food business and carry out an inspection without an appointment. Most inspections are therefore unannounced.
When a food business opens, we will carry out an initial inspection. We will then carry out routine inspections .
After a food inspection
, a food hygiene rating is given.
What inspections involve
During the inspection we check:
- all relevant food safety documents – food safety management systems, temperature records, training records, pest control record, cleaning schedules
- the condition of the premises
- the standard of cleaning
- the temperatures of fridges, freezers and hot hold equipment
We may take photographs or samples and can detain or seize food.
If you are given food safety actions as a result of the inspection, we will tell you whether it is a legal requirement or good practice. We may revisit your premises and have legal powers available to make sure you comply.
We complete sampling during food hygiene inspections, if there has been a complaint and as part of national studies.
There are two types of sampling, food safety and food standards.
Food safety sampling
Food safety sampling involves submitting the food to the UK Health Security Agency’s laboratory. They test for the amount and type of the bacteria in the food.
The results show if the food is safe to eat and for how long it will remain safe if it is stored correctly.
Swabs of food preparation areas, food containers and utensils can be taken.
Water supplies may also be tested.
Food standards sampling
Food standards sampling involves looking at the composition of the food such as comparing the amount of fat in minced beef to what the label on the packet says.
If we sample food from your premises we will share the results of the analysis with you.